Pakistan on Thursday moved closer to appoint the first woman judge of the Supreme Court after a high-power panel approved the elevation of Lahore High Court judge Ayesha Malik to the apex court of the conservative Muslim-majority country.
The Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) – headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed – approved Malik’s elevation by a majority of five votes against four, Dawn newspaper reported quoting an informed source.
After endorsement by the JCP, her name will be considered by a parliamentary committee which rarely goes against the recommendation of the JCP. This is the second time that the JCP held a meeting to decide on Justice Malik’s elevation.
Justice Malik’s name first came before the JCP on September 9 last year but the panel was equally split, resulting in the rejection of her candidature.
The Supreme Court Bar Association had expressed reservations at her nomination due to the issue of seniority.
President Abdul Latif Afridi had called a countrywide protest against her name being considered, saying that she was junior to many judges serving in five high courts of the country. This time the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) had threatened to boycott courts if the JCP went ahead to consider her name. The PCB is expected to agitate against her endorsement.
Justice Malik became a high court judge in March 2012 and currently she is number four on the Lahore High Court (LHC) judge seniority list. In case of her elevation, she will work as a Supreme Court judge until June 2031 before retiring at the age of 65.
She will also be the senior most serving judge and likely to become the Chief Justice of Pakistan in January 2030. In that scenario, she will again create history to become the first chief justice of Pakistan.