Islamabad, Jan 24 (EFE).- Justice Ayesha Malik took oath on Monday as Pakistan’s first Supreme Court female judge in the conservative country amid criticism from bar associations.
Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed administered oath to Justice Ayesha in a live TV broadcast.
Justice Malik, No.4 on the seniority list, was a judge of the Lahore High Court and will sit on the bench alongside 16 male colleagues at the highest court.
Pakistan Judicial Commission elevated her as the top court judge earlier this month, and a parliamentary committee approved her appointment last week.
After the oath-taking ceremony, the chief justice told the media that Justice Malik was competent to become a Supreme Court judge.
Her nomination had sparked controversy.
The Judicial Commission first rejected her nomination by the chief justice in September last year.
The chief justice again nominated her for reconsideration by the commission.
At the time of her consideration, Pakistan Bar Council held a countrywide protest leading to the suspension of court proceedings across Pakistan.
Khushdul Khan, vice president of the bar, said the body did not object to her appointment because of her gender, but she did not top the seniority list.
Muhammed Ishtiaq, a judicial officer at the Supreme court, said all court proceedings went normal at the time of the oath-taking of Justice Ayesha.
“Today, there was no strike by the lawyers in the Supreme Court at the time of oath taking,” Muhammed told EFE.
At the same time, Malik has sparked hope among human rights activists and organizations in Pakistan to build a fair and equitable system for women and girls in a deeply conservative society.
Anita Zaidi, the president of gender equality at the Gates Foundation, said it was a historic moment for Pakistani women who know that they could occupy a space on the table in the highest judicial office.
Pakistan had so far been the only South Asian country not to have a woman Supreme Court judge.
Females account for just four percent of all judges in the higher Pakistan judiciary, nonprofit Human Rights Watch said. EFE