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President Alvi Approves Justice Ijazul Ahsan’s Resignation

President Alvi Approves Justice Ijazul Ahsan's Resignation

On Friday, President Dr Arif Alvi accepted the resignation of Justice Ijazul Ahsan from the Supreme Court, a decision that came swiftly after the departure of his colleague, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.

The President House issued a press release stating that Justice Ahsan resigned under Articles 179 and 206(a) of the Constitution. The acceptance of his resignation was made on the advice of Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar.

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Justice Ahsan, in his one-page resignation letter submitted a day earlier, characterized his time in the apex court as an “honour and privilege” but conveyed his decision not to continue as a judge of the Supreme Court without providing a specific reason for his resignation.

The unexpected resignation of Justice Ahsan, who was in line to be the next Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) after CJP Qazi Faez Isa, will now pave the way for the next senior judge, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, to assume the position soon after the retirement of CJP Isa on October 25, 2024. Prior to this development, Justice Shah was expected to assume the coveted office from August 3, 2025.

Justice Shah will now take on additional responsibilities, replacing Justice Ahsan on the Supreme Judicial Council and the three-member special committee responsible for bench formation.

Following the resignations of Justice Ahsan and Justice Naqvi, the Supreme Court’s strength has been reduced to 14 out of the available 16 judges, against a sanctioned strength of 17.

The road to Justice Ahsan’s resignation is speculated to be linked to a controversy involving a case of his former client, M/s BNP (Private) Limited, related to the One Constitution building. Allegedly, his involvement in hearing this case and providing relief to the client led to a situation where Justice Naqvi, whom Justice Ahsan had ardently defended before the Supreme Judicial Council, abruptly resigned, causing embarrassment to Justice Ahsan.

Differences between CJP Isa and Justice Ahsan had been surfacing, particularly in relation to the three-judge committee responsible for fixing cases before different benches. Justice Ahsan, labeled by detractors as part of the so-called ‘Bandial group,’ had raised objections to the committee’s working. In response, CJP Isa questioned Justice Ahsan’s work ethic, emphasizing the primary responsibility of judges to attend judicial work.

Notably, after the full court proceedings regarding challenges to the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023, Justice Ahsan was no longer seen sitting on any bench headed by the Chief Justice. His last significant judgment pertained to military courts, where a unanimous verdict by a five-member bench, including Justice Ahsan, declared the trial of 103 civilians allegedly involved in the May 9 violence against the Constitution. Justice Ahsan had also expressed concerns about two special benches formed by the special committee, of which he was part, to hear intra-court appeals in the military court case and the Justice Naqvi case.