Suman Kumari: Pakistan’s First Hindu Women Judge

The newspapers across the world reported about Suman Kumari who has become the first Hindu woman to be appointed as a civil judge in Pakistan. Ms Kumari, who hails from Qambar-Shahdadkot in Sindh province, will serve in her native district. Suman Kumari who passed her L.L.B. examination from Hyderabad and did her masters in law from Karachi’s Szabist University. She then worked for Advocate Rasheed A. Razvi’s firm. Dr Pawan Kumar Bodan, an eye specialist, wants his daughter to provide free legal assistance to the poor people, especially from the Hindu community. Ms Kumari felt it was important for the Hindu community to realise that it needs to educate its children.

However, the news takes us back to the time when the country’s first judge from the Hindu community Justice Rana Bhagwandas, who served as the acting Chief Justice for brief periods between 2005 and 2007. The Hindus make up nearly 2 per cent of Pakistan’s total population and Hinduism remains the second largest religion in Pakistan after Islam. Rana Bhagwandas studied Law and received a Master’s degree in Islamic Studies. He was a senior judge and former acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan during the 2007 judicial crises. He became the first Hindu and the third non-Muslim after A.R Cornelius and Dorab Patel to serve as the chief of the highest court of Pakistan. He was considered an expert on Constitutional Law. He worked as the Chair of Federal Public Service Commission of Pakistan and was also a member of the selection board of the Sindh Madressatul Islam University Karachi. In 1999, his appointment to the superior judiciary was challenged by a constitutional petition which argued for the appointment to be declared unconstitutional because of Baghwandas’ religion. The petition was rejected on the grounds that,

  • the prescribed procedure was followed in his appointment; and
  • he was a highly respected judge and constitutional expert, which should have been the focus for the purposes of the appointment.

He died on 23rd February 2015 in Karachi. On 8 February 2005, Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas was honoured with Siropa (robe of honour) during his maiden visit to Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar, India.

Qualifications to be Judge in Pakistan: In an article published on site of preserved, it is mentioned in one of the published articles that the qualifications to become the judge of different courts in Pakistan.  It was mentioned that before the 18th Constitutional Amendment, appointments of judges in the Supreme Court were made by the President of Pakistan through the recommendation of the Chief justice of the Supreme Court. In May 2010, a new judicial Commission and the parliamentary committee were established for appointments. The parliamentary committee oversees the recommendation of the judicial court. In the high court judges are appointed in the same manner as in the Supreme Court. In the case of additional district and session Judges are appointed by the provincial high courts, from a group of lawyers and subordinate judges. However, they must also pass an examination held by the High Courts. The subordinate judges are promoted from senior civil judges. Even the Civil judges are appointed by the Provincial High Courts on the recommendation of the provincial public service commission. These commissions have competitive exams annually, which are promoted in national newspapers. The main qualifications are LL.B from a well-recognized university and three years of experience as an advocate in the jurisdiction in question. The exams include various papers for many subjects.

So in order to become a judge, you have to first become a lawyer and then be appointed as a judge. In order to become a practising lawyer, you have to first get enrolled in the Provincial Bar Council. After passing the LL.B in Pakistan, an individual can get himself enrolled in the Bar Council. The enrollment as an advocate depends upon the individual passing through the subjective or MCQ type written exam within a period of 2.5 years in 4 attempts. After that, they have to complete 6 months of apprenticeship and pass the Viva Voce Examination. In order to become an advocate in the high court which is the second level position, a license is obtained after you have completed practising for two years in the lower court. This is done by the application. These applications are reviewed by high court judges. After successful practice as an advocate at High Court level for 10 years, an application can be placed to the Bar Council to become an advocate at the Supreme Court, this application is also reviewed by a panel of Supreme Court judges. If you fail you can also reapply. If you want to become a judge then you can also apply for that and pass any examination requirements or stand in front of the respective deciding committees after applying.


Image curtsey Suman Kumari: The Tribune

Image curtsey Justice Bhagwan Das-The Dawn


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