New CJP Umar Ata Bandial lays focus on cutting caseload

Justice Bandial sworn in as 28th Chief Justice of Pakistan: Composition of Supreme Judicial Council, Judicial Commission also changed

By: News Desk
Published: 10:20 AM, 2 Feb, 2022
New CJP Umar Ata Bandial lays focus on cutting caseload
Caption: President Arif Alvi administering oath of office to Justice Umar Ata Bandial as the new Chief Justice of Pakistan
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Senior-most Supreme Court judge Justice Umar Ata Bandial was sworn in as the 28th Chief Justice of Pakistan at an impressive ceremony at Aiwan-i-Sadr in Islamabad on Wednesday, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

President Dr Arif Alvi administered the oath of office to Justice Ata Bandial.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, chairman joint chiefs of staff committee and services chiefs, federal ministers, retired and serving judges, chief justices of the high courts and parliamentarians attended the oath-taking ceremony.

The notification of the appointment of Justice Umar Bandial was read out on the occasion. ”In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 175(3) read with Article 177 of the Constitution, the president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is pleased to appoint Mr Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the most senior judge of the Supreme Court, as chief justice of Pakistan with effect [from] Feb 2, 2022,” the notification said.

Justice Bandial took oath as the country’s 28th top judge after the retirement of CJP Gulzar Ahmed on February 1.

Later, Justice Bandial while stressing the need for reducing the backlog of cases, urged the lawyers to come prepared to the courts and avoid seeking adjournments.  

On arrival at the Supreme Court after taking oath of his office on Wednesday, Justice Bandial was warmly received by the lawyers who congratulated him on becoming the CJP.  

CJP Bandial responded that he was glad to be in their company. “Lawyers and judges are members of the same family,” he commented. 

The CJP burst into laughter when renowned lawyer Naeem Bukhari told him that he would wait for his retirement so that he could meet him again. 

The notification for the appointment of Justice Bandial as the next CJP was issued by the law ministry on January 17. Justice Bandial will serve in the top judicial office until Sept 16, 2023, when he is due to be replaced by Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

Justice Bandial donned the robes as the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) after incumbent CJP Gulzar Ahmed retired a day earlier on Feb 1, after two years and 42 days in office. He was appointed to the highest judicial office in the land on Dec 21, 2019.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 175(3) read with Article 177 of the Constitution, the president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is pleased to appoint Mr Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the most senior judge of the Supreme Court, as chief justice of Pakistan with effect [from] Feb 2, 2022,” said the notification issued on Jan 17, 2022 by the Ministry of Law and Justice.

When elevated to the office of CJP, Justice Bandial will face a veritable mountain of around 51,766 cases that are pending before the Supreme Court alone. The overall backlog of cases in Pakistan’s judiciary, including the superior courts as well as district courts, stands at a whopping 2.1 million.

According to the scheme of seniority, Justice Isa would be CJP until Oct 25, 2024, when he is replaced by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan for 282 days. Then, on Aug 4, 2025, the post would go to Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah. He is expected to remain in office Nov 27, 2027, when he would be succeeded by Justice Munib Akhtar. Justice Yahya Afridi would be the country’s next top judge from Dec 14, 2028 until Jan 22, 2030.

Justice Bandial’s Profile

Born in Lahore on Sept 17, 1958, Justice Bandial received elementary and secondary education from different schools in Kohat, Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Lahore. He secured a bachelor’s degree in economics from Columbia University, followed by a Law Tripos degree from Cambridge and qualified as a barrister-at-law from the prestigious Lincoln’s Inn in London.

In 1983, he was enrolled as an advocate of the Lahore High Court (LHC) and a few years later, as an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

In his law practice at Lahore, Justice Bandial dealt mostly with commercial, banking, tax and property matters. Justice Bandial also handled international commercial disputes after 1993, right up until his elevation.

Justice Bandial also appeared in arbitration matters before the Supreme Court and various international arbitral tribunals in London and Paris.

Justice Bandial was elevated as a judge of the LHC on Dec 4, 2004. He was one of the judges who declined to retake their oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) of Nov 2007, when Gen Pervez Musharraf proclaimed a state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007.

However, he was restored as a judge as a result of a lawyers’ movement for the revival of the judiciary.

Justice Bandial then served as chief justice of the LHC for two years until his elevation as judge of the apex court in June 2014.

During his career in the superior judiciary, Justice Bandial has rendered a number of important judgements on issues of public and private law. These include pronouncements on civil and commercial disputes, constitutional rights and public interest matters.

Justice Bandial also taught contract law and torts law at the Punjab University Law College, Lahore until 1987 and remained a member of its graduate studies committee while serving as the LHC judge.

A day earlier, the Supreme Court Bar Association hosted a farewell dinner in honour of Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed. Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Supreme Court judges and senior lawyers also attended the dinner.

While addressing on the occasion, Justice Umar Ata Bandial mentioned that the country must criticise the decisions, not the authors. He added that bar and the bench have a beautiful relationship and a common goal to deliver justice.

He further added that the number of pending cases has increased and they will expedite the process of dealing with the cases while the decisions of the cases will be done after hearing both parties.

CJP Bandial new chairman of Supreme Judicial Council, JC

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial who was sworn in as 28th Chief Justice of Pakistan Wednesday also became Chairman of Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and Judicial Commission, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

The Judicial Council consists of Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Maqbool Baqir and two senior chief justices of the high courts.

The composition of the Judicial Commission for appointment of Judges has also changed.

The other members of the Judicial Commission are Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ejaz-ul-Haq.

The Judicial Commission also includes Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP), Law Minister and Justice (rtd) Sarmad Jalal Usmani and representative of Pakistan Bar Council advocate Akhtar Hussain.

Reporter Amanat Gishkori