ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Supreme Court’s most senior judge Just Asif Saeed Khosa would be new Chief Justice of the country and will assume charge on Friday (January 18). He is famous for his bold and blunt decisions and is called ‘courageous judge’. His tenure is short and will serve as the chief justice until 18th December 2020.
The Ministry of Law has selected Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and President Dr Arif Alvi today approved the appointment of Justice Asif Saeed Khosa for this important post. Present Chief Justice Saqib Nisar a day earlier on Wednesday, December 17.
After completing his undergraduate and master’s degree from the University of Punjab, he went to the United Kingdom for higher studies. He obtained an LLM Degree from the University of Cambridge.
He has also served as an advocate in the Lahore High Court and Supreme Court of Pakistan. He has been a senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan since 31 December 2016.
Interestingly, former senior judge of the Indian Supreme Court Justice Madan Bhimarao Lokur will lead a three-member delegation of Indian judges who will arrive in Islamabad on January 18 through the Wagah Border.
According to a report, the Indian judges’ delegation will attend the oath-taking ceremony of Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa as new Chief Justice of Pakistan at the President House on January 18.
Justice Madan Bhimarao Lokur is a friend of Justice Asif Saeed Khosa who has been invited to attend the oath-taking ceremony. Madan Bhimarao Lokur retired as judge of the Indian top court on December 30, 2018.
Last August, Prime Minister Imran Khan invited Indian cricketer and Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu to attend his oath-taking which triggered controversy there and he had to face severe backlash from Hindu extremists.
Courageous and blunt judge
According to a report by Hasnat Malik (for Tribune), Justice Khosa, who is son-in-law of former chief justice Nasim Hassan Shah, is seen as one of the top jurists on criminal law. During his career, spanning over a period of more than nineteen and a half years so far, he has decided about 55,000 cases.
Born in Dera Ghazi Khan on December 21, 1954, Justice Khosa obtained his law degree from the UK in 1976. He was among the Lahore High Court (LHC) judges, who refused to take oath under the November 3, 2007 Provisional Constitution Order (PCO).
The biggest contribution of Justice Khosa in his career is that he cleared backlog of criminal cases. He decided over 10,000 cases of criminal nature since 2014. At present, a few hundred criminal appeals are pending.
When a special bench, led by Justice Khosa, got active, criminal appeals, which were filed in 1994, were pending. The bench cleared all pendency and now it is hearing appeals filed during 2018.
Interestingly, there is no concept of adjournment in Justice Khosa’s court. It has been witnessed that after hearing every case, Justice Khosa dictates the orders in the courtroom and announces them without reserving the verdicts.
Due to his interest and hard work, dozens of convicts had been acquitted and released after imprisonment of more than a decade. Likewise, he initiated steps for speedy trial in murder cases in a few districts of Punjab.
The incoming chief justice was elevated to the Supreme Court on February 18, 2010. Later, he remained part of a number of benches and authored landmark judgments in many high-profile cases. He is the judge who authored a ruling that no second FIR
[first information report]
can be registered in criminal cases.
In National Reconciliation Order (NRO) case, he was part of seven-judge larger bench, which disqualified former prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani in 2010. He wrote an additional note in Gilani disqualification verdict. Also, Justice Khosa led the larger bench that heard the Panama leaks case. He was the first who disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution.
Senior lawyers believe that Justice Khosa was the one who highlighted discrepancies in the replies submitted by the Sharif family during the hearing. Likewise, his verdict in Anwar Saifullah case is also famous.
Justice Khosa has also given his view how to deal matters related to corruption. The senior lawyers believe that there is need to debate on his approach to deal white-collar crime cases. In his 192-page judgment in Panamagate case, he says that corruption at high places is not a new phenomenon but the methods of corruption and concealing the proceeds of corruption have seen a dramatic change in recent times.
Justice Khosa believes that the standard of proof in relation to corruption and corrupt practices is ‘balance of probabilities’ (allowing inferences from circumstantial evidence) and not ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
In contempt cases, Justice Khosa is not lenient. He authored the verdict of sentencing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Nehal Hashmi for one month, even though Hashmi had tendered unconditional apology in that case.
Likewise, he was heading the larger bench, which sent police officials behind bars in contempt matter related to the manhandling of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in March 2007. However, he disposed of contempt notice against two media men last year.
Likewise, Justice Khosa issued verdicts against two high court judges. Recently, Justice Khosa, being a member of Supreme Judicial Council, authored opinion about the removal of Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.
Likewise, he also reversed Special Court’s verdict to implead former chief justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, then law minister Zahid Hamid in treason case, wherein the federal government only lodged complaint against former military ruler Pervez Musharraf. The judge had asked the special court to conclude treason case expeditiously.
He also gave the landmark ruling in Salman Taseer murder case, in which he restored terrorism charge against murderer Mumtaz Qadri and upheld his death sentence. Likewise, Justice Khosa also highlighted a number of discrepancies in the Aasia Bibi blasphemy case. And on the basis of those discrepancies, Aasia got acquitted.
Recently, Justice Khosa is also heading a committee, which gave recommendations on police reforms in the country. He has also proposed appropriate amendments to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) law.