LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in a statement regarding appointment of judges in the Lahore High Court has stated that judges appointment has been declared by the Constitution as a sacred and religious duty which is best performed when all the stakeholders involved in selection to strive for appointing such persons who are not only the best with regard to their knowledge, experience and suitability but are also God-fearing and enjoy an impeccable repute and sound character. Shahbaz said he neither considers himself as the authority for the appointment of judges nor has any such desire. However, he said, as the representative of 90 million people of Punjab he wants Pakistani nation to build institutions in a way that could operate as a bulwark against authoritarianism, nepotism, cronyism and corruption in all its manifestations. He said it is unfortunate that in the matter of appointment of judges to the Lahore High Court an unnecessary and uninformed debate has been initiated while the real question is whether in the performance of his function as consultee, in the matter of appointment of judges, the Governor is bound to act on the advice of the Chief Minister or not? He said his statement is aimed at putting the extremely important issue in its proper perspective. Following is the text of the Chief Ministers statement: An independent judiciary is imperative for a just and democratic society. The independence of the judiciary is dependent as much upon the knowledge, experience and suitability as upon the character conduct and antecedents of the judges who constitute the judiciary. It is for this reason that the function of appointment of judges is performed under the constitution as a sacred and religious duty. This duty is best performed, and the objective of an independent judiciary best realised, when all the constitutional functionaries act within their respective domains and the parameters as defined by the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is unfortunate that in the matter of appointment of judges to the Lahore High Court an unnecessary and uninformed debate has been initiated. The statement is aimed at putting this extremely important issue in its proper perspective. It needs to be noted that under the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, neither the Governor of the Province nor the Chief Minister is the appointing or the recommending authority for elevation to the High Court, the appointing authority being the President of Pakistan, who acts in this behalf on the binding advice of the Prime Minister, and the recommending authority being the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court and the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Further, as per the Constitution, the function ascribed to Governor in this regard is that of a consultee. As to the extent and scope of his consultative function, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has held (in Al Jihad Trust Case) that it is confined to recording his opinion as to the antecedents, character and conduct of the candidates recommended for elevation. He can obtain this information only through the chief minister of an elected government of the province. The real debate here is therefore not whether it is the Chief Minister or the Governor who is authorised by the Constitution to recommend any person for elevation as judge of the High Court, or to withhold any name so recommended by the Chief Justice of the Province. Neither of these two constitutional functionaries have any such authority. Nor do I wish or purport to arrogate this authority to myself. The real question is whether in the performance of his function as consultee in the matter of the appointment of judges the Governor is to act on the advice of the Chief Minister? My considered view is that in the performance of his function as consultee under article 193 of the Constitution, the Governor cannot act on his own, rather he is to act on the advice of the Chief Minister, as mandated by article 105 of the Constitution. In holding this view I am fortified by the unequivocal observation, made in the latter Al Jihad Case, to the effect that after the case for appointment of judges has been initiated in High Court by its Chief Justice, it is processed in case of a High Court by the Governor and the Chief Minister concerned. In any case the provisions of the constitution are clear and unambiguous in this regard. We are at a defining moment of our national history. As a result of struggle by every section of society an historic opportunity has been provided to rebuild national institutions which can live up to the hopes and aspirations of the people and can operates as a bulwark against authoritarianism, nepotism, cronyism and corruption in all its manifestations, while simultaneously protecting the economic, political and social rights of the poor. It is for this reason that all stakeholders must make a sincere endeavour to have persons of sterling character, who are fearless and impartial, to be appointed to these important positions. None of these objectives can be achieved unless we manifest our belief in and unwavering adherence to the rule of law and constitutionalism while performing our duties and functions. Only in this manner we can materialise the vision of Quaids Pakistan.