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Justice Ayesha Malik’s nomination as CJP can wipe out gender-based bias?

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 14, 2023, 17:41:00


Pakistan , First women Justice

Justice Ayesha Malik is all set to become the first woman Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Almost 74 years after Pakistan’s independence, the country is going to get its first woman Chief Justice and for all valid reasons, this appointment is being looked at as a significant episode in the history of Pakistan, marking a new dawn for women in law.

The appointment of Justice Malik to the top judicial position becomes a landmark incident worth celebrating because this had been long due considering the fact that women Justices with seniority were overlooked during such appointments. There are many examples of how senior-most women lawyers were superseded by their junior counterparts.

Justice R. Fakhar-un-Nissa Khokar was passed over by her junior Justice Chaudhary Iftikhar for the position of Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court. He subsequently made her the Chief Justice of the Environmental Tribunal, much against her will.

In 2011, Justice Khalida Rashid, who was expected to take over as Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court was asked to either choose to become nominated president of the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda or resign. She went with the first choice.

However, this time the ‘unceremonious’ tradition has changed. Justice Ayesha Malik ranks fourth on the seniority list of the Lahore High Court and yet she has made it to the top post bypassing three senior male justices from Lahore High Court. Her supporters say that it is her credibility, integrity, and competence that has brought her to this position.

Even as women advocates battle aggression, misogyny, sexism from both colleagues and clients, Justice Malik going to adorn the top post in the Apex Court has come as a ray of hope for the women advocates. They feel that this move can put an end to gender-based biases and misogyny in the corridors of the courts and facilitate the nomination of more women judges to higher courts.

Who is Justice Ayesha Malik?

It is Justice Malik, who in her landmark judgment concluded that the two-finger test for sexual abuse survivors was humiliating. She held that there was n forensic value attached t the same. Due to this, the two-finger virginity test in the rape examination was scrapped off.

Justice Ayesha Malik, who became a justice in the Lahore High Court in 2012, had started her legal career in 1997, assisting Fakhurddin G Ebrahim at his legal firm in Karachi till 2001. She studied law at the Pakistan College of Law, Lahore. She then got a Master’s degree from the Harvard Law School in London. Here she received a London H. Gammon Fellow 1998-1999 for outstanding merit.

She had completed her primary and secondary education from schools in Paris and New York and went to London’s Francis Holland School for Girls for A-Levels.

She has also worked for non-profit organizations and NGOs working on poverty alleviation and microfinance programs as a pro-bono counsel.

She has authored multiple publications and compiled the Supreme Court of Pakistan 1956-2006 Selected Cases published by the Pakistan College of Law. In 2019, Justice Malik was appointed as the president of the Committee for Protection of Women Judges in Lahore, constituted due to the “hooliganism by lawyers in district courts toward female judges”. She also became a member of The International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ), a women empowerment initiative through equality and justice.

Many feel that the nomination of Justice Malik to this position will open avenues for more and more women to reach top positions in the field of Judiciary. The nomination will also bring about change in the grim landscape of Pakistan’s judiciary, where the number of female judges in the various High Courts has not gone up from six judges since 2019.