Mian Saqib Nisar was the 25th Chief Justice of Pakistan, in office from 31 December 2016 till 17 January 2019. He was elevated as chief justice on 31 December 2016, when Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali reached his constitutionally set retiring age.
He was ascended as the Justice of the Supreme Court on 18 February 2010. He has previously served as the Federal Secretary Law. He remains a visiting professor of law at the Punjab University where he provides instructions on constitutional law.
Justice Saqib Nisar was educated at the Cathedral High School in Lahore where he matriculated and enrolled at Government College University (GCU) where he graduated with a BA degree in 1977. He later went to attend the Punjab University where he secured LLB in civil law in 1980.
While being an undergraduate student at the GCU Lahore, he was selected to be a member of the international delegation representing Pakistan in International Youth Conference held in Tripoli in Libya in 1973.
Soon after his graduation with a law degree, Saqib Nisar enrolled as an advocate and began private practice of law at the District Court in 1980. In 1982, he was called to the bar at the Punjab Bar Council and was enrolled as an advocate of the Lahore High Court. He practiced law as an advocate for a decade until he was invited and called by the Supreme Court Bar Association, subsequently relocating in Islamabad. In 1991, he was elected as a Secretary-General of the Lahore High Court.
In 1992, he secured his fellowship at the Supreme Court Bar Association and elevated as an Advocate Supreme Court which he remained until 1998. His reputation, seniority, and credentials as practicing lawyer at the Supreme Court Bar led his nomination as a judge, which he secured after passing the judge's qualification exams controlled by the Supreme Court's controller general.
On 29 March 1997, he was appointed as Law Secretary at the Ministry of Justice and Law (MOJL) a chief bureaucratic position inside the law and justice ministry. His appointment as a law secretary was nominated and confirmed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif immediately after being elected in general elections held in 1997. His appointment as a law secretary was noted as the first time in the history of the country that someone from the Bar had been appointed to such post.
On 22 May 1998, he was elevated as judge at the Lahore High Court after a nomination summary sent by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, only to be confirmed as judge of Lahore High Court by the then President Rafiq Tarrar. As a judge in Lahore High Court, he heard and passed judgements on many important cases involving the resolution of disputes on the civil matters, commercial banking disputes, and tax evasions / avoidances. At the Lahore High Court, Justice Nisar earned popular reputation on his judgements that were described by legal observers as textualist leanings based on the presented factual evidences.
In 2000, Justice Nisar was among one of many judges at the Lahore High Court who took the oath under the new provisional constitutional order and was continue to allow hearing cases at the Lahore High Court. About taking an oath under the new order, Justice Saqib Nisar observed in 2010: If a judge takes oath after three months of an amendment, he would not review them since he took oath under the same constitution.
On 13 February 2010, his nomination to be elevated as the justice of the Supreme Court was initially rejected by the then-President Asif Ali Zardari in spite of recommendation made by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. President Zardari instead elevated Justice K.M. Sharif that ultimately supersedes senior-most Justice Nisar for the promotion, appointing the latter as acting Chief Justice of Lahore High Court.
Upon hearing these developments, Chief Justice Chaudhry suspended the appointment order and marked such actions as unconstitutional, using his constitutional powers granted by the Judicial Commission. About the appointment as acting chief justice of Lahore HC, Justice Nisar refused to meet with Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer to take an oath, and reported marked; I cannot accept any illegal order just for my own sake. Justice Nisar's refusal eventually led to a crises within government circles for the appointment, and decision by Justice Nisar was viewed extremely populist in the society.
Eventually, the scuffle seemed to be resolved when Prime Minister Gillani met with Chief Justice Chaudhry, only to sign off the summary sent by Chief Justice Chaudhry to prevent standoff with the Supreme Court on 18 February 2010. On 19 February 2010, Justice Nisar, alongside with A.S. Khosa, were sworn as justices of the Supreme Court in a simple ceremony.
He was a member of the Supreme Court bench which heard the case against 21st Constitutional Amendment, the amendment which authorized the establishment of military courts to hear terrorism cases after the incident which killed 141 people including 132 children in a school in Peshawar on 16 December 2014.
He also heard the case where Pakistan Railways's land worth Rs10 billion was allotted to Royal Palm Golf Club by Musharraf government which federal government of Nawaz Sharif wanted back in 2014. He also heard the Panama Papers case, which disqualified Nawaz Sharif, as Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Justice Nisar is known for his educational interests in legal education, and is currently tenuring as visiting professor of law at the Law College of the Punjab University where he provides instructions on the constitutional law and civil law procedure. Justice Nisar attended and represented Pakistan in the international conference on India and Pakistan at Fifty held in Wilton Park in United Kingdom. He also led judicial delegations on conferences held in The Philippines and Switzerland.
In 2009, Justice Nisar authored a paper on Islam and democracy and presented the paper to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo, Norway, and offered discussion on the ‘Role of the Courts in Islamic Democratic Society.’
Justice Saqib Nisar was born on 18 January 1954 to Mian Nisar, an advocate belonged to the noble Arain Family of Lahore.