Tuesday June 06, 2023

Election date suo motu notice: Three PDM parties object to Justices Ahsan, Mazahir

Three parties – JUIF, PPP and PML-N – asked SC to form full court to hear the suo motu notice taken by CJP Umar Ata Bandial

February 25, 2023
The front of the Supreme Court of Pakistans building.
The front of the Supreme Court of Pakistan's building.

ISLAMABAD: Three main parties of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Friday expressed dissatisfaction over two judges of Supreme Court, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, and sought their recusal from nine-member bench of the apex court hearing suo moto case regarding the delay in announcement of a date for elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

These three parties – Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUIF), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), asked the SC to form a full court to hear the suo motu notice taken by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial.

The request was made in a joint statement, read out by the counsel for the PPP, Farooq H Naek, on behalf of the three parties when the nine-member bench resumed the hearing of the suo motu notice on Friday.

The PPP lawyer also requested Justice Ijazul Ahsen and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi to recuse themselves from hearing the suo motu notice.

The bench is headed by CJP Bandial and comprises Justice Ahsen, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah.

At the outset, the attorney general told the court that they had not received the copy of the court order which is why all parties did not appear today.

The CJP Bandial remarked that the purpose of today’s hearing was to inform the relevant authorities about the suo motu notice.

At this point, Naek read out the joint statement of the PPP, JUIF and PMLN regarding their objections on two judges of the bench.

The lawyer said that both the judges had made their observations on the matter when they heard Ghulam Mehmood Dogar’s plea regarding his removal as the Lahore police chief.

Farooq H Naek also referred to the objection, the other day raised by Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, who had observed that hearing the instant matter under suo moto jurisdiction was not justified, as it was taken on the note of two judges, Justice Ijazul Ahsen and Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, while hearing the matter of CCPO Punjab Ghulam Mehmood Dogar.

Farooq H Naek clarified that the three parties have no personal grudges with Justice Ijazul Ahsen and Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi but both the judges had already given their views in Dogar’s transfer case.

According to the joint statement, the three parties not only sought recusal of the two judges from the nine-member bench hearing the election matter regarding Punjab and KP, but also sought their recusal from the benches wherein cases of these parties were pending. Naek stated that they were objecting to the two judges’ inclusion in the “interest of justice, fair play and to protect the fundamental right to a fair trial and due process as guaranteed under Article 10A”.

On this, Justice Minallah asked the lawyer if he felt there was a need to form a full court for the case.

“The matter of election is of public [importance] there should be full court on this,” responded Naek and formally appealed for a full court to hear the suo motu notice on the delay in elections.

Counsel for Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid said that the judiciary was being ridiculed on the social media since yesterday and urged the court to look into the matter.

CJP Bandial said that the matter would be looked into later. “Prepare for the case,” the CJP told the attorney general.

However, Naek interjected that the matter pertaining to the bench formation and the objections surrounding it should be resolved first.

“The decision was made on February 16 and the notice was taken on February 22,” said the CJP, adding that taking suo motu notice falls under the chief justice’s jurisdiction. He said that the petitions by Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assembly speakers were clubbed with the suo motu.

The court is also looking into the questions raised in the petitions, filed by the speakers, he added.

Justice Mandokhel said that political matters should be resolved in the Parliament. “Tell your political parties why the court should hear these cases,” he added.

At this, the PPP lawyer said that he would seek instructions from his party on this matter.

“Today the Constitution knocked at our doors, which is why we took the suo motu notice,” remarked the CJP.

He observed that the court would examine the questions raised in two petitions filed before the apex court, adding that on Monday, the court would look into formation of full court, the objections raised on two members of the bench as well and adjourned further hearing till Monday 11:30am.