PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth has passed away aged 59, a spokesperson for the court confirmed late Thursday.
Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth was battling coronavirus and succumbed to the deadly illness earlier today, the spokesperson said.
The PHC’s top judge was undergoing treatment at Islamabad’s Kulsum International Hospital.
‘An honest, impartial, and brave judge’
The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and the Supreme Court of Pakistan have announced a day of mourning on Friday — November 13 — in response to the tragic passing of Justice Seth.
In a joint statement, the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (SCBA), as well as the chairperson and the vice chair of the PBC’s Executive Committee, announced that lawyers would not appear in the courts across the country except for urgent matters.
“The nation has lost a bold and fearless judge,” the statement read, terming Justice Seth’s death “a national loss”.
“Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth was an honest, impartial, and brave judge,” it added.
Justice Seth was elevated to the PHC as Additional Judge on August 2, 2011, and took oath as Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court on June 28, 2018.
The Musharraf high treason case
He is most famous for being on the bench that handed the death penalty to former president Pervez Musharraf in a high treason case.
Justice Seth’s controversial observation in the detailed judgment of the high treason case — sentencing former military dictator Pervez Musharraf to death — had the government opt to take legal action against the judge.
Law Minister Farogh Naseem had slammed the observation, declaring him “unfit” for the role of a senior judge.
Request for elevation to Supreme Court
A March 30 report had stated that the PHC’s top judge had requested the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) to recommend his elevation to the Supreme Court on the basis of his seniority and merit.
In a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed, who is also the JCP chair, the judge had said he had a legitimate expectancy to be appointed as the apex court’s judge and should be recommended for the appointment.
Condolences pour in
Prime Minister Imran Khan offered condolences and prayers to Justice Seth’s family.
“Saddened to learn of the passing of Chief Justice Peshawar High Court Waqar Ahmed Seth. May his soul rest in peace – Ameen,” PM Imran Khan wrote on Twitter.
Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa also expressed grief.
“May Allah bless his soul & give strength to the bereaved family to bear this irreparable loss, Ameen,” the director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted Gen Bajwa as saying.
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan also expressed grief at the judge’s passing.
“Saddened to hear passing of Chief Justice Peshawar High Court Waqar Ahmed Seth,” Kamal wrote.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ghani said he was “saddened over the news”.
“May his soul rest in peace – Ameen. My condolences & prayers go to his family,” Ghani wrote on Twitter.