Pakistan President Arif Alvi on Friday gave his approval to the elevation of Lahore High Court Justice Ayesha Malik as the country’s first-ever woman judge of the Supreme Court, a watershed moment in the judicial history of the conservative Muslim country.
According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Law, Malik’s appointment has been approved by President Alvi and will come into effect as soon as she takes the oath of office.
”In exercise of powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 177 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the President is pleased to appoint Mrs. Ayesha A. Malik, a judge of the Lahore High Court, […] as a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan with effect from the date she takes the oath of her office,” reads the notification.
The historic development came just two days after the bipartisan Parliamentary Committee on the Appointment of Superior Judiciary approved the 55-year-old justice’s nomination as the Supreme Court judge. The nomination was sent by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) earlier this month.
The Parliamentary Committee headed by Senator Farooq H Naek of Pakistan Peoples Party, while approving her nomination, set aside the seniority principle. Justice Malik is on the fourth position on the seniority list of the judges of the Lahore High Court.
”We have approved Justice Ayesha’s name in the national interest,” he said.
Normally, the seniority of high courts judges is considered while approving their elevation to the Supreme Court and it was precisely the reason her name was rejected by the JCP last year.
Even the latest JCP meeting held on January 6 hotly contested the issue before finally granting approval of Malik’s nomination by a marginal difference of five members supporting Malik while four opposing her nomination.
Justice Malik was appointed as a judge of the Lahore High Court in March 2012. She will now work as a Supreme Court judge until her superannuation in June 2031. She would be in the line to become the chief justice also in January 2030 on the basis of her seniority.
The chief justice of the Supreme Court is appointed on the basis of seniority of service in the apex court.
Born in 1966, Malik completed her basic education from schools in Paris, New York, and Karachi, according to the Lahore High Court’s website.
She studied law at Pakistan College of Law, Lahore and did her LLM from Harvard Law School, according to the Lahore High Court website.
She gave her landmark judgment back in June 2021 when she had declared virginity tests for examination of sexual assault survivors “illegal and against the Constitution of Pakistan.”