Pakistan’s President, Dr. Arif Alvi, has appointed Justice Musarrat Hilali as the first female Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court (PHC). The Ministry of Law and Justice released a notification confirming the appointment, citing Justice Hilali as the most senior PHC judge. She will assume the role from April 1, 2023, until the appointment of a regular Chief Justice by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan.
Justice Hilali’s appointment is a historic milestone for Pakistan as she becomes the first woman to hold this position in PHC. The only other woman to hold the position of Chief Justice in a High Court in Pakistan is Justice Tahira Safdar, who was the Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court from September 2018 to October 2019.
Born in Peshawar on August 8, 1961, Justice Hilali received her law degree from Khyber Law College of the University of Peshawar. She enrolled as an advocate of district courts in 1983, as an advocate of the high court in 1988, and as an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2006. She has achieved several firsts for women in Pakistan’s legal profession.
Justice Hilali’s impressive career started with being the first woman elected office-bearer in the post of secretary at the bar from 1988-1989. She served as the vice president of the bar twice from 1992 to 1994, the general secretary from 1997 to 1998, and the first woman twice elected as an executive member of the Supreme Court Bar Association from 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. In November 2001, she became the first female Additional Advocate General of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, serving until March 2004.
Justice Hilali’s passion for the environment led to her appointment as the first female Chairperson of the KP Environmental Protection Tribunal. She also served as the first female Ombudsman for the Protection against Harassment of Women in the Workplace.
Justice Hilali’s dedication and commitment to her profession have not gone unnoticed. She was elevated to the bench as an additional judge on March 26, 2013, and confirmed as a permanent PHC judge on March 13, 2014. She has been recognized as one of the senior-most judges of PHC and will serve as CJ until her retirement.
Justice Hilali’s appointment is a significant milestone for the Pakistani legal system and women in the country. It is a testament to the potential of women in leadership roles and their ability to excel in male-dominated fields. Her appointment will serve as an inspiration to women in Pakistan, encouraging them to pursue their dreams, no matter how challenging the journey may be.