Pakistan struggles to appoint first female judge in top court amid protests by lawyers

Lawyers in Pakistan are gearing up to resist the appointment of Ayesha Malik, currently a judge in Lahore High Court, to the Supreme Court

Dec 30, 2021
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Ayesha Malik, judge in Lahore High Court

Lawyers in Pakistan are gearing up to resist the appointment of Ayesha Malik, currently a judge in Lahore High Court, to the Supreme Court. If approved by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP), Malik will become the first female judge to be appointed to the country’s top court. However, lawyers in Pakistan are against her appointment. 

Known for her landmark judgment, banning the two-finger and hymen tests on rape victims, Malik was nominated for the top court last week by the Chief Justice of Pakistan for the second time in the four months. The earlier attempt to elevate her failed in September when the JCP, a body that vets all judicial nominations, failed to form a consensus. 

Pakistan Bar Association (PBA) has been protesting against her elevation, citing a violation of the seniority principle. Malik’s nomination supersedes three senior high court judges—which is also the reason why the first attempt in September to elevate her failed. 

JCP has called a meeting on 5 January to discuss the appointment. However, PBC, determined to uphold seniority principles, has called a meeting on 3 January, two before the JCP meeting, to chalk out their strategy. 

An LLM degree holder from the Harward Law School, Malik has been a judge since 2012. If her nomination is approved by the JCP, she could well be in line to become the country’s first woman chief justice of Pakistan by 2030. 

She had started her career, fighting pro bono cases for NGOs working on poverty alleviation, microfinance, and skills training programs. Significantly, in Pakistan, only 5.6 percent of judges are female—the lowest in South Asia. 

Majeed Kakar, president of Balochistan High Court Bar Association, speaking to Dawn, termed the elevation of the junior judge as an attempt to trample the seniority principle. He went on to add that Justice Malik was being denied the right to become the chief justice of the LHC.

 (SAM) 

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