Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan


Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan

The Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan consists of 8 muslim judges including the Chief Justice. These Judges are appointed by the President of Pakistan choosing from amongst the serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court or a High Court or from amongst persons possessing the qualifications of judges of a High Court. Justice Haziq-ul-Khairi is the Chief Justice of FSC.

Of the 8 judges, 3 are required to be Ulema who are well versed in Islamic law. The judges hold office for a period of 3 years, which may eventually be extended by the President. The FSC, on its own motion or through petition by a citizen or a government (federal or provincial), has the power to examine and determine as to whether or not a certain provision of law is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam. Appeal against its decisions lie to the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of 3 muslim judges of the Supreme Court and 2 Ulema, appointed by the President. If a certain provision of law is declared to be repugnant to the injunctions of Islam, the government is required to take necessary steps to amend the law so as to bring it in conformity with the injunctions of Islam.

The court also exercises revisional jurisdiction over the criminal courts, deciding Hudood cases. The decisions of the court are binding on the High Courts as well as subordinate judiciary. The court appoints its own staff and frames its own rules of procedure. Ever since its establishment in 1980, the Federal Shariat Court has been the subject of criticism and controversy in the society. Created as an islamisation measure by the military regime and subsequently protected under the controversial 8th Amendment, its opponents question the very rationale and utility of this institution. It is stated that this court merely duplicates the functions of the existing superior courts and also operates as a check on the sovereignty of Parliament. The composition of the court, particularly the mode of appointment of its judges and the insecurity of their tenure, is taken exception to, and it is alleged, that this court does not fully meet the criterion prescribed for the independence of the judiciary. That is to say, it is not immune to pressures and influences from the Executive.

In the past, this court was used as a refuge for the recalcitrant judges. And whereas some of its judgments, particularly the ones which relying on the Islamic concept of equity, justice and fair play, expanded and enlarged the scope and contents of individual’s rights were commended, others that tend to restrict the rights of women, are severely criticised and deplored. In brief there is a need for a serious discussion on the status, utility and functions of this Court.

ee also

*Chief Justices of the Federal Shariat Court

External links

;Official
* [http://www.supremecourt.gov.pk Supreme Court of Pakistan]
* [http://www.ljcp.gov.pk/ Law and Justice Commission Government of Pakistan] ;Other
* [http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20060802-095409-1513r.htm A victory for Pakistani women] - Editorial in "Washington Times"


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