Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Justice Sabihuddin Ahmed: a profile

Justice Sabihuddin Ahmad, who had an illustrious career as a jurist was born in 1949 in Hyderabad (Sindh). He obtained his early education from different parts of the country, his M.A from Punjab University in 1969, and LLB from the University of Karachi.

Justice Ahmed enrolled in the legal profession in 1972 and started his law practice with a leading lawyer, Khalid M. Ishaque. He was also a member of the Sindh High Court Bar Association and the Supreme Court Bar Association, and appeared before superior courts in important civil and constitutional cases.

He was a founder-member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and served as its vice-president from 1987 to 1990. He also participated in several international conferences on human rights and allied issues. He contributed several articles to newspapers and periodicals on constitutional human rights issues.

He was elevated as a judge of the Sindh High Court (SHC) in January 1997. He also participated in several international judicial conferences inside and outside the country, and was elected as a member of the International Advisory council of the International Centre for Promotion of Human Rights, as well as the steering committee of the South Asia Forum for legal education on gender issues.

He was appointed as the SHC chief justice (CJ) on April 28, 2005, after the elevation of the then-SHC CJ, Saiyed Saeed Ashhad, to the Supreme Court (SC). He was deposed by former president, Gen. (retd) Pervez Musharraf, on November 3, 2007, after the proclamation of emergency and the imposition of the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).

Justice Ahmed, however, accepted a reappointment offer by the present Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government a as judge of the Supreme Court and re-joined the judiciary in September last year. He had been serving as an SC judge since.

He was also a member of a five-member SC bench that was dealing with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif’s review appeals in their disqualification matter. The five-member bench had suspended the SC judgment last month and ordered the restoration of Shahbaz Sharif as the Punjab Chief Minster.

During his 11-year-long judicial carrier, he delivered many landmark judgments in constitutional, human rights, service and civil matters. While dealing with cases of missing citizens, he took serious notice of the indifferent attitude of government in ascertaining the whereabouts of missing persons and observed that protection of life and liberty of citizen was responsibility of the government.

He also took suo moto notice over siege of Sindh High Court and city courts by miscreants on May 12, 2007 prior to the arrival of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in Karachi.

In his recent SC judgment in a human rights case regarding bonded labourers, he declared that High Court had the plenary powers to positively enforce fundamental rights not merely against “public authorities but even private authorities” observing habeas corpus petitions could not be dismissed on the grounds that alternate remedies were available to detained persons. He was also a member of Board of Trustee of Aga Khan and Board of Governors, Hamdard University.