Federal Shariat Court
|Federal Shariat Court|
|Location||Constitution Avenue, Islamabad|
|Authorized by||Constitution of Pakistan|
|Appeals to||Supreme Court of Pakistan|
|Judge term length||3 years|
|Number of positions||8|
|Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court|
|Currently||Muhammad Noor Meskanzai|
The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) is a constitutional court of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which has the power to examine and determine whether the laws of the country comply with Sharia law. The court was established in 1980 during the government of the President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. It is located in the federal capital, Islamabad. It hears appeals under the Hudood Ordinances, a religious legislation in the country introduced in 1979.
The Federal Shariat Court is the only constitutional authority in the country designed to prevent enactment of un-Islamic laws by the parliament of Pakistan. It is predominantly focused on to examine new or existing law of Pakistan. If a law violates the Quran, sunnah or hadith, it prohibits its enactment.
Court structure and mandate
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It consists of eight Muslim judges appointed by the President of Pakistan on the advice of the Chief Justice of the Court, from amongst the serving or retired judges of the Supreme Court or a High Court or from amongst persons possessing the qualifications of High Court judges. Of the 8 judges, 3 are required to be Ulema who are well versed in Islamic law. The judges hold office for a period of 3 years, which may eventually be extended by the President.
Appeal against its decisions lie to the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of 3 Muslim judges of the Supreme Court and 2 Ulema, appointed by the President. If any part of the law is declared to be against Islamic law, the government is required to take necessary steps to amend such law appropriately.
The court also exercises revisional jurisdiction over the criminal courts, deciding Hudood cases. The decisions of the court are binding on the High Courts as well as subordinate judiciary. The court appoints its own staff and frames its own rules of procedure.
Ever since its establishment in 1980, the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan has been the subject of criticism and controversy in the Pakistani society. Created as an islamisation measure by the military regime of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq and subsequently protected under the controversial 8th Amendment, its opponents question the very rationale and utility of this institution. It is stated that this court merely duplicates the functions of the existing superior courts and also operates as a check on the sovereignty of Parliament. The composition of the court, particularly the mode of appointment of its judges and the insecurity of their tenure, is taken exception to, and it is alleged, that this court does not fully meet the criterion prescribed for the independence of the judiciary. That is to say, it is not immune to pressures and influences from the Executive branch of the government.
Court's history of cases
In March 1981, the court ruled in an adultery appeal that stoning people to death was "repugnant to the injunctions of Islam," a decision that upset ruling General Zia ul-Haq, and Islamic revivalists. Zia ul-Haq then replaced several members of the court, and the above-mentioned decision was reversed.
In 1982, the Federal Shariat Court ruled that there is no prohibition in the Qur'an or Hadith about the judgeship of a woman nor any restriction limiting the function of deciding disputes to men only. In 2013 Ashraf Jehan became the first female justice of the Federal Shariat Court.
In February 2017, the court issued its ruling on test-tube babies and validated its use conditionally. The Nation reported, "The Federal Shariat Court yesterday declared the option of using 'test tube baby' method for conceiving babies for the married couples having some medical complications as lawful."
The fact that lawyers make up a permanent majority of judges of the court, outnumbering Islamic ulama, has been credited with the court finding "technical flaws in every stoning and amputation appeal that it has ever heard", preventing the carrying out of sentences amputating limbs and killing by stoning.
Chief Justice and judges
|Sr. No||Name||Designation||Date of appointment|
|1||Justice Muhammad Noor Meskanzai||Chief Justice||15 May 2019|
|2||Justice Dr. Syed Muhammad Anwer||Aalim Judge||21 May 2020|
|3||Justice Khadim Hussain M. Shaikh||Judge||27 March 2021|
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