The Pakistan government on Saturday reappointed another four judges sacked by former president Pervez Musharraf, taking to 12 the number of justices restored since Wednesday amid allegations that it was pursuing a policy of 'selective' reinstatement.
The four judges of the Lahore high court, who were among 60 deposed during last year's emergency, were administered oath by provincial Chief Justice Syed Zahid Hussain Bukhari at a simple ceremony in the eastern city.
Judges, law officers of the federal and provincial governments and lawyers affiliated to the ruling Pakistan People's Party attended the event.
The federal government's policy of 'selectively' reinstating the judges has been criticised by the influential lawyers' movement and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which pulled out of the PPP-led coalition after accusing party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari of reneging on agreements to restore all the judges.
Office-bearers of the Lahore High Court Bar Association did not attend Saturday's ceremony to register their protest.
Strict security arrangements were put in place for the event and ordinary persons were not allowed to enter the venue.
In a notification, the federal law ministry said that the strength of the Lahore high court had been raised to 60 judges. But with the addition of four judges, the high court still only has 37 judges.
Bukhari and judges of the high court also hosted a reception for visiting Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, who was appointed by Musharraf after sacking his predecessor Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
On Wednesday, eight deposed judges of the Sindh high court were restored to their positions after taking a fresh oath.
An official of the federal law ministry had then said that the move signalled the beginning of the process to reinstate all deposed members of the superior judiciary.
The lawyers' movement and the PML-N had then said that all the deposed judges should have been reinstated at one go.
The PPP began the process of reinstating the judges two days after the PML-N pulled out of the ruling coalition.
The deposed judges had earlier refused offers to return to their jobs, insisting on the reinstatement of all of them including Chief Justice Chaudhry, but the PPP-led government has succeeded in getting some of them to agree to fresh appointments.
Musharraf, who resigned as president on August 18, sacked the judges who did not endorse the emergency he imposed last year.
He acted at a time when it appeared that Chaudhry would rule against his re-election in uniform.