Pakistan plans to raise number of Supreme Court judges

June 12th, 2008 - 12:20 am ICT by IANS  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, June 11 (IANS) The coalition government led by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Wednesday proposed to increase the number of Supreme Court judges from 16 to 29 as the lawyers’ Long March moved towards the capital, seeking restoration of the sacked judges. “I propose to increase the number of Supreme Court judges from 16 to 29,” Finance Minister Naveed Qamar said in his budget speech in parliament Wednesday, surprising many, including the PPP legislators.

The announcement came as hundreds of lawyers continued their march towards Islamabad demanding restoration of more than 60 judges of the superior courts who were sacked by President Pervez Musharraf Nov 3 when he imposed the emergency rule in the country.

“Now the judges will be restored and the present judges will also continue to work,” a PPP legislator said requesting anonymity.

The number of sacked Supreme Court judges is 13, including former chief justice Iftikhar Choudhry, while 16 judges are functioning presently.

The PPP legislator said that after the minister’s announcement the former and the present judges will be working together - which is contrary to the demand of the lawyers as well as the coalition partner Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The PML-N and the lawyers have demanded the restoration of the sacked judges along with removal of the present judges who took oath under Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) showing allegiance to President Musharraf after the Nov 3 emergency.

The sacked judges, hours before their removal Nov 3, had given a verdict asking all judges of the superior courts not to take oath under PCO.

Justice Chaudhry in his speech last week said that those who violated the Supreme Court order will be punished, hinting that the PCO judges would be removed once he is restored.

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