Islamabad, February 7: New Chief Judge of supreme Appellate Court Gilgit Baltistan, Rana Arshad Khan, took oath of his office in a simple ceremony held at GB House in Islamabad amid strong protests by students and political workers against his appointment.
Governer GB Pir Karam Ali Shah administered oath to the Chief Judge. Chief Minister Mehdi Shah, Provincial Ministers, Chief Secretary, members of Legislative Assembly, members of GB Council, Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Mian Manzor Wattoo and other high civil officials attented the ceremony.
Workers of different political parties, including Pakistan Peoples Party, People Students Federation and some nationalist groups, staged a demonstration against the appointment of non-local judge in the region.
The protesters, under the leadership of Manzoor Bagoro, Adviser to Chief Minister and a senior leader of PPP Gilgit – Baltistan gathered in the bulding of Gilgit Baltistan House and chanted slogans against the government.
Terming the appointment of new Chief Judge “illegal, unjust and against the Self Governance Order(SGO) 2009″, Bagoro said that according to the SGO the senior most judge should have been appointed as Chief of Supreme Appellate Court. He maintained that the government had voilated the law.
“People of Gilgit Baltistan cannot tolerate the violation of their rights and a protest movement will be launched if senior most judge of Appellate Court is not elevated to the office of Chief Judge, repealing the non-local judge”, Bagoro said.
Addressing to the protesters Provincial Finance Minister Muhammad Ali Akhter assured that federal government would be apprised of their concerns. Akhtar said that protest was right as the appointment of a non-local judge was injustice with Gilgit-Baltistan. He said that if government did not pay any attention to the demand of people, members of assembly would tender resignations.
Mean while lawyers bodies have announced to boycott the court procedings across Gilgit Baltistan and launched protest movement.
A general body meeting of Supreme Appellate Court Bar Assosiation was held in Gilgit president Ehsan Ali Advocate presided over the meeting and after deliberate consideration a unanimous resolution was passed. Terming the appointment of new Chief Judge as unjust and illegal, the lawyers expressed grave concerns over the situation and said that provincial government had failed to protect the rights of the region. They demanded of the government to review its decision.
“President and Chief Justice of Pakistan should take notice of the situation and new chief judge should be replced by a competent judge” they requested.
High Court Bar Assosiation has also endorsed the resolution and announced to take part in the protest movement.