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Judicial crisis: G-B govt delegates remand powers to commissioners, ACs

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan government on Tuesday has delegated powers to commissioners, deputy and assistant commissioners as the row between region’s Supreme Appellate Court and Chief Court continues to escalate.

The decision to grant ‘remand powers’ was taken after chief court and lower court judges refused to hear cases in protest against the suspension of G-B Chief Court Registrar Mumtaz Ahmed.

Ahmed was earlier suspended by the apex court’s chief judge, Justice Dr Rana Shamim, for handcuffing and threatening the general manager of Serena Hotel after the latter failed to reserve rooms for his guests – Peshawar High Court Judge Justice Qaiser Rasheed Khan and his family.

The apex court’s decision annoyed lawyers as well as judges, who decided to go on strike till the court’s orders were reversed. The strike prompted the government to make part-time arrangements to run day-to-day legal affairs.

“Following approval from the competent authority, the law department delegated powers to commissioners, DCs and ACs to grant remand as magistrates for all cases,” a notification issued by home department read. A press release issued earlier by chief court read the chief judge appreciated support from lawyers and asked judges to prepare to go to any extreme.

Taking stock

Lawyers continued to hold meetings on the second consecutive day to discuss the situation. “There are deliberations over what to do next,” a lawyer told The Express Tribune. “One of our main demands now is to set up a registry of Supreme Court of Pakistan in G-B.”

In its suo motu notice on Monday, Justice Shamim said the non-bailable arrest warrants have been issued by misusing the authority and exceeding judicial powers. “The administrative and judicial powers conferred on Ahmed shall be withheld and withdrawn till further orders,” he said.

Justice Shamim advised the Chief Court Judge Sahib Khan to make alternative arrangements to run the affairs of the registrar’s office.

Orders to seal

Officials told The Express Tribune a report submitted to apex court by the G-B IGP stated the registrar allegedly wanted to seal the hotel after its general manager refused to entertain his request of providing rooms to the judge.

In a separate report, DIG Kamal Khan said Ahmed had asked them to seal Serena Hotel. It added the DIG and DC later met the registrar and tried to convince him against doing so as a high-level Chinese delegation was on an official visit to G-B and was staying at the hotel. 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2016.

 

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