Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Mussarat Hilali has become the first woman from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to be elevated to the Supreme Court.
The development came after the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) in a meeting headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial unanimously approved elevating the Peshawar chief justice to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, officials said.
Justice Hilali is the first woman from KP to be appointed as the apex court judge and the second woman in the country’s history to be elevated to the Supreme Court.
In January last year, Justice Ayesha Malik made history in Pakistan's judicial system after she was appointed as the Supreme Court judge by the JCP with a vote of five to four.
The JCP is a constitutional body that decides appointments to the apex court, high courts, and the Federal Shariat Court.
The JCP is headed by the CJP, the next senior-most four judges, a former chief justice or apex court judge, the law minister, the attorney general, and a senior Supreme Court advocate nominated by the Pakistan Bar Council.
Currently, the top court is functioning with 15 judges, including the chief justice, against the sanctioned strength of 17 judges.
Last month, Supreme Court Senior Puisne Judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa penned a letter to CJP Bandial urging him to immediately convene a meeting of the JCP to fill the vacancies of the judges in the apex court. He also suggested the names of the chief justices of the Sindh High Court (SHC) and PHC for the posts.
The JCP last met in October 2022 where three judges were elevated to the top court.
The JCP meeting should consider the names of the two judges on the seniority principle, urged Justice Isa.
Born in Peshawar on August 8, 1961, Justice Hilali received a law degree from Khyber Law College, Peshawar University and enrolled as an Advocate of District Courts in 1983, as an Advocate of the High Court in 1988 and as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2006.
Being a female she had several achievements in her career including: First female elected office-bearer in the post of secretary at the bar from 1988-1989; Vice president at the bar (twice) from 1992 till 1994; General Secretary from 1997 till 1998; First female twice elected as an executive member of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) from 2007-2008 and 2008-2009.
She was also the first female Additional Advocate General of KP from November 2001 to March 2004 and was later appointed as the first female Chairperson of KP Environmental Protection Tribunal.
Justice Hilali also served as the first female ombudsman for protection against the harassment of women in the workplace.
She was elevated to the bench as an additional judge on March 26, 2013, and confirmed as a permanent judge of the Peshawar High Court on March 13, 2014.
"I want to congratulate Justice Ayesha Malik on becoming the first woman judge of the Supreme Court," Prime Minister Imran Khan said. "I wish her all the best," he added on Twitter.
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