Islamabad: A bench of a Pakistani court that was to take up a petition challenging an extension granted to Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was dissolved Tuesday after the government did not issue a notification extending the tenure of the two judges hearing the case.
Justices Noorul Haq Qureshi and Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who were hearing the matter, were administered oath as additional judges for a year on November 21 last year.
Though their term ended today, the government did not issue a notification to extend their tenure.
Officials said the bench stood dissolved and would be unable to hear the petition challenging the unprecedented three-year extension given to Kayani by the Pakistan People`s Party-led government in 2010.
The judges were to hear the petition on November 22.
Col (retired) Inamur Rahim, who has challenging the legality of the extension, has contended that Kayani cannot hold the post of army chief as he had reached the age of retirement (60 years) on April 20.
The Judicial Commission headed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and a parliamentary panel that oversees judicial appointments had recommended that Justices Qureshi and Siddiqui be given a six-month extension.
Despite this, no notification was issued by the government, officials said.
Observers have suggested that the government`s action was aimed at placating the army as Kayani has spoken out against moves to prosecute several retired generals for their role in financial scams and for meddling in politics.
Kayani recently issued a strongly worded statement that acknowledged past mistakes by members of the armed forces but said that no state institution should exceed its constitutional limits.
Though he did not name anyone, analysts concluded his remarks were aimed at the apex court.
The apex court recently held former army chief Gen Mirza Aslam Beg and former ISI chief Asad Durrani responsible for rigging the 1990 polls.
The National Accountability Bureau, the country`s main anti-corruption agency, is finalising a case against three other former generals - including former ISI chief Javed Ashraf Qazi - who have been accused of causing losses of billions of rupees by leasing railways land to a golf club for a throwaway price.
In a related development, a four-judge bench of the Supreme Court today heard a petition filed by a lawyer questioning the government`s actions in the appointment of judges to the Islamabad High Court.
The bench clashed several times during the hearing with Attorney General Irfan Qadir, who said the President has the right to review matters related to the appointment and extension of judges.
The apex court adjourned the case till November 22 and asked the Attorney General to submit the government`s response in the case.
The non-confirmation by the government of a set of Islamabad High Court judges recommended by the Judicial Commission could lead to a "constitutional crisis" and deepen the polarisation between the executive and the judiciary, the Dawn quoted its sources as saying.
The Judicial Commission has issued letters to the Secretary to President Asif Ali Zardari, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and Senate Secretary Iftikharullah Babar, who is also secretary of the parliamentary committee on judges` appointment.
The controversy also involves the President`s refusal to elevate a judge recommended by the Judicial Commission as the Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court.
The Judicial Commission recommended the appointment of Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kansi but the presidency turned it down, saying another judge was senior to Kansi.