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Justice Asif Saeed Khosa sworn in as Pakistan’s 26th chief justice

ISLAMABAD: Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, the senior most judge of the Supreme Court, took oath as the 26th Chief Justice of Pakistan in a ceremony held at President House in Islamabad on Friday.

President Dr Arif Alvi administered oath to the new chief justice of the country. Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, federal ministers, sitting and former judges of the Supreme Court apart from foreign dignitaries attended the ceremony.

The guests from foreign countries included Supreme Court President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus Narin Ferdi Sefik, Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi, former senior puisne judge Supreme Court of India and President Governing Committee of the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute Justice Madan Bhimarao Lokur, Chief Judge State of Borno Nigeria Kashim Zannah and Sandra E Oxner, a former judge and founding president Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute, Canada.

Justice Khosa replaced outgoing Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar who retired on Jan 17. He will serve as the top judge of Pakistan till Dec 20, 2019.

Born on Dec 21, 1954, in Dera Ghazi Khan, Justice Khosa passed his matriculation exam in 1969 from the Multan Board. In 1973, he appeared for the B.A exams from Government College Lahore at Punjab University and secured first position. He pursued his Masters in English language and English Literature from the University of Punjab in 1975.

Then Justice Khosa attended Queens College at the University of Cambridge, obtaining a Masters degree in law with a specialisation in International Public Law. Later, he went on to become a barrister at law on July 26, 1979, at the Honorable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in London.

He enrolled as an advocate of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on November 13, 1979 before enrolling as an Advocate of the Supreme Court on September 12, 1985. Justice Khosa has handled thousands of cases pertaining to constitutional, criminal, civil, service, revenue and election laws as an advocate of the SC and HC apart from writing a few books as well.

The incoming chief justice also holds the title of a constitutional lecturer at various law colleges in Pakistan apart from Civil Services Academy, Lahore; National Institute of Public Administration (NIPA), Lahore; National Police Academy, Islamabad; Staff Training Institute of the Services and General Administration Department of the Government of the Punjab; Training Course for Civil Judges conducted by the LHC and the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

Barrister Khosa was appointed as a LHC judge in May 1998. On Nov 3, 2007, Justice Khosa refused to abide by former president General (retd.) Musharraf’s presidential order declaring a state of emergency after suspending the constitution and demanded judges of the superior judiciary to retake oaths under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).

Consequently, he was sacked from office among other SC and HC judges.

On August 18, 2008, Justice Khosa was restored to his position as a HC judge in the wake of an unprecedented mass movement to restore the superior judges sacked for not retaking their oaths under the PCO.

The movement, initially launched by lawyers later attracted political workers and civil society activists.

Landmark verdicts of Justice Khosa

He was part of the seven-member larger bench of the SC which heard the contempt of court proceedings against the former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani.

On May 2012, the SC ruled against Gillani, disqualifying him from holding office of the Prime Minister.

Justice Khosa penned down a separate six-page note in which he, quoting famed Lebanese author Kahlil Gibran, wrote about “Pity of the Nation”. The note became a subject of media coverage all over the country.

Justice Khosa also headed the larger bench of the SC that heard the Panama Papers case against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family.

The following are his remarks on article 62 and 63 of the Constitution pertaining to the aforementioned case.

“This case is the first of its kind. We know the gravity of a declaration by the court and its effects for both the parties saying that someone was not honest. But we have to lay down parameters, otherwise, except for the Jamat-e-Islami chief Sirajul Haq, no one will survive.”

Justice Khosa also passed several remarks that attracted  public attention while hearing a case against Asia Bibi, a Christian woman falsely accused for passing blasphemous remarks against The Holy Prophet (PBUH). A three-member bench of the SC unanimously acquitted Bibi on October 31, 2018.

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