[JURIST] The Pakistan Law and Justice Ministry Tuesday announced the formal forced retirement from the Pakistan Supreme Court and other high courts of 37 judges, including ousted Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry [JURIST news archive], who was replaced immediately after President Pervez Musharraf's November 3 imposition of emergency rule. Acting Law Secretary Malik Hakim Khan cited the judges' refusal to take oaths under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) [text as amended] as the reason the government moved against them, denying them of pensions and other usual benefits. Many of the deposed judges were also told to vacate their official residences, as the homes have now been allotted to newly appointed PCO judges [News report]. In response to the latest announcement, members of the Islamabad Bar Association staged a protest [Reuters report] against Musharraf Wednesday, saying that they will work only half-days until he reinstates the ousted judges.
Musharraf dismissed 14 Supreme Court judges, including Chaudhry, in the wake of his declaration of a state of emergency [JURIST report], replacing them with lower court judges more loyal to the president. Provincial high courts were also purged. Last week, Musharraf pledged to end emergency rule and reinstate the suspended constitution on December 16, but officials said he would not reinstate the ousted justices [JURIST report]. The United Nations and some US lawmakers have called for the reinstatement of an independent judiciary [JURIST report] in Pakistan, but press reports have quoted Western diplomats as saying that this is not the official stance of some Western governments that agree with Musharraf that the Chaudhry-led Supreme Court was meddling in Pakistani politics. The Nation has more.