Islamabad, January 18: Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, who part of the Supreme Court benches that disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from politics and overturned the death penalty of a Christian woman jailed for blasphemy, was sworn in as the 26th Chief Justice of Pakistan on Friday.
President Arif Alvi administered the oath to Khosa, 64, in a ceremony held at President House in the capital, Geo News reported. He replaced Justice Saqib Nisar whose tenure ended on Thursday.
Khosa's oath-taking ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Imran Khan, top government and military officials, Supreme Court judges, senior lawyers and other dignitaries. He is scheduled to retire on December 21, the report said.
"I will do right to all manners of people, according to law, without fear or favour," said Khosa, who is known as the "poetic justice" for his habit of citing works of literature in his judgments. He is regarded as Pakistan's top expert on criminal law.
Khosa was a member of the Supreme Court panel that in 2018 overturned the death penalty of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman jailed for blasphemy. The ruling sparked days of violent protests by Muslim hardliners. He was also among the judges who disqualified Sharif from politics for life after corruption allegations in 2017.
Khosa introduced the agenda for his tenure on Thursday as "to attend to the causes that contribute towards delay in disposition of cases at all levels of the judicial hierarchy".
He has, over the course of his nearly two-decade career, decided about 55,000 cases. A special bench headed by him decided over 10,000 cases of criminal nature since 2014.
Khosa said there were 1.9 million cases pending in the country's courts with just 3,000 judges to deal with them.
"It is, therefore, time to take some big and hard decisions," he said, adding that structural and systemic changes were needed "to minimise litigation, eliminate unnecessary delays, rationalise the workload as well as redesign and restructure the judicial system as a whole".