In a historic move, President Dr Arif Alvi has appointed Justice Musarrat Hilali as the first female chief justice of the Peshawar High Court (PHC), according to a notification from the Ministry of Law and Justice. She is set to assume her new role as the most senior PHC judge from April 1. This is a temporary appointment and will remain in effect until a regular chief justice is appointed by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan.
Justice Musarrat Hilali’s appointment is a significant milestone for gender equality and women’s representation in the judiciary. She is the second woman to hold the position of chief justice of a high court, following Justice Tahira Safdar, who served as the chief justice of the Balochistan High Court from September 2018 to October 2019.
Born in Peshawar in 1961, Justice Hilali received her law degree from the Khyber Law College of the University of Peshawar. Her legal career began as an advocate of district courts in 1983. Later, she became an advocate of the high court in 1988 and an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2006.
Justice Hilali has held several leadership positions in the legal profession, including as the first female elected office-bearer as secretary at the bar from 1988 to 1989, twice as vice president at the bar from 1992 to 1994, and as general secretary from 1997 to 1998. She was the first woman to be twice elected as an executive member of the Supreme Court Bar Association from 2007 to 2008 and 2008 to 2009.
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Moreover, Justice Hilali has held various significant roles in the public sector, including as the first female additional advocate general of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from November 2001 to March 2004, and as the first female chairperson of the KP Environmental Protection Tribunal. She was also appointed as the first female Ombudsman for the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace.
Justice Hilali was appointed as an additional judge in the PHC in March 2013 and was confirmed as a permanent PHC judge in March 2014. This latest appointment is another milestone in her illustrious career, and it will set an example for future generations of women to follow in her footsteps.