Salman Akram Raja is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan who regularly appears as counsel in cases of far reaching constitutional as well as corporate and commercial importance. Apart from his adversarial and pro bono work Mr. Raja has appeared as amicus curiae before the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Provincial High Courts in several cases.
Prior to his LL.M at Harvard Law School, Mr. Raja graduated from Downing College, Cambridge University in 1989 and from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University in 1994.
Litigation that brought Mr. Raja early prominence included his support for a woman’s right to marry without the consent of a male guardian (1996) and his challenge to the attempted seizure and disposal of foreign currency accounts by the federal government following Pakistan’s nuclear tests in May 1998.
In 2009 he was counsel for Dr. Mobashir Hassan, a founder of the Pakistan Peoples’ Party, in the successful challenge brought by Dr. Hassan to the infamous National Reconciliation Ordinance of 2007 that was issued by General Musharaf as part of an understanding with the Pakistan People’s Party leadership whereby all pending criminal cases against a large number of politicians were terminated.
Mr. Raja also appeared for a large number of public intellectuals, journalists, civil society leaders and Pakistan Trade Unions Conference in an intervention before the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the well known Eighteenth Amendment Case in 2010. Mr. Raja successfully took the position that parliament’s power to amend the Constitution could not be subjected to judicial review by the courts on the ground that the Objectives Resolution of 1949, a pre-constitutional resolution passed by the Constituent Assembly, or any other part of the Constitution could be used as basis for circumscribing the amendment power available to parliament.
In 2011 Mr. Raja acted for the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists in a landmark constitutional case pertaining to the terms and conditions of service of newspaper employees regulated by statute.
In 2012, Mr. Raja was counsel for Air Marshal (Retd) Asghar Khan, former Chief of the Pakistan Air Force, in the public interest petition filed by the Air Marshal against a former Chief of the Army Staff and a Director General of the ISI, accusing them of having distributed funds to support politicians and political parties arrayed against Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party in the 1990 General Elections. In a landmark judgment regarding the civil-military balance in Pakistan the Supreme Court of Pakistan held both the former Army Chief and the former Director General of the ISI responsible.
In 2013, Mr. Raja successfully argued for the use of DNA material as evidence in rape cases in a country in which intimidation of rape victims often results in “settlement” of rape charges against the perpetrators. This prompted the Council of Islamic Ideology to issue an edict against the admissibility of DNA material. The tension between judicial pronouncements and non-judicial opinions purportedly grounded in the shariah continues.
In 2015 Mr. Raja appeared for the Election Commission of Pakistan before the Commission of Inquiry into alleged misconduct during the General Election of 2013.
Presently Mr. Raja is appearing for the Gilgit Baltistan Bar Council before the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in a case that seeks determination of the constitutional status of Gilgit Baltistan and of its people.
In addition to his constitutional law work Mr. Raja appears in regulatory, commercial and tax matters for leading corporations and banks. He has represented major regulators such as the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority and the State Bank of Pakistan.
Mr. Raja has also been involved in important legislative work. In 2001, as member of the President’s Steering Committee on Higher Education Reform he helped to draft the Model Universities Ordinance of 2001 that provided for far reaching governance overhaul in public sector universities. Mr. Raja is currently a member of the Task Force on civil service reform.
Mr. Raja has also been a lecturer at the Law Faculty of the Lahore University of Management Sciences and the Government College University, Lahore.
Mr. Raja is a regular commentator on television in Pakistan as well as an op-ed contributor in the press.