Pakistan elevated Judge Ayesha A Malik to the country’s Supreme Court, making her the first female judge in the country’s history to hold a prominent judicial post.
This is the second time that Judge Malik’s name has been sent by the Pakistan Judicial Commission (JCP) for elevation after a lack of consensus led to her rejection in September last year.
However, Judge Malik’s elevation was echoed again Thursday by Pakistani Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed at a JCP meeting after which she was elected to a seat on the highest court with a majority. by five votes to four, the Dawn the newspaper reported.
The 55-year-old is currently a judge at the High Court in Lahore, where she is said to be ranked fourth among judges.
The elevation of Judge Malik – the first for a woman in the 74-year history of independent Pakistan – has been implicated in protests after many in the legal fraternity questioned her seniority for the role.
The Pakistan Bar Council and all other bar associations threatened a general boycott before the commission’s decision to review Judge Malik’s elevation, demanding that it be halted.
Lawyers alleged that the commission ignored the drafting of fixed criteria for the appointment of Supreme Court justices.
Women in Law Pakistan, a nonprofit initiative, defended elevation and quelled charges over the seniority debate, saying the promotion of seniority as a legal requirement was a “myth”.
“At least 41 times, judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court without being the oldest,” he said in a statement.
“So there is no such custom either. “Seniority” is at best a simple request from certain members of the bars for the moment and has no legal basis, “the statement added.
Others on social media celebrated the news, with lawmaker Maleeka Bokhari welcoming Judge Malik’s entry to the highest court.
“An important and defining moment in our country as a brilliant lawyer and decorated judge became Pakistan’s first female SC judge,” she said in a tweet.
“To break the glass ceilings,” added Ms. Bokhari, Pakistan’s ruling Tehreek-e-Insaaf lawmaker and parliamentary secretary for the law.
“A new dawn. This is a historic day for [women empowerment] in [Pakistan]. I welcome the news and thank the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan and others as Honorable Justice Ayesha Malik becomes Supreme Court Justice, ”said Zartaj Gul Wazir, Pakistan Minister of State for Climate Change .
The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, the nation’s capital, welcomed the move.
“We welcome the appointment of Justice Ayesha Malik to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Judge Malik, who completed her LL.M. from Harvard Law School, will become the first woman in Pakistan’s 74-year history of Supreme Court, ”the embassy said in a tweet.
Wouter Plomp, the Dutch envoy to Pakistan, also welcomed the move and called it a step forward for inclusiveness in the justice system.
“Good start to 2022 for [Pakistan]. Justice [Ayesha Malik] become the first female judge on the Supreme Court. Women in [leadership] the posts help achieve [gender equality and women empowerment], he said in a tweet.