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Monday June 17, 2024

No misconduct found in complaints against two ex-CJPs, two SC judges

Complainant alleged when case was referred back to a lower court, ex-CJP Nisar exerted influence over judge in lower court

By Sohail Khan
September 24, 2023
A general view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan building in Islamabad. — AFP/File
A general view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan building in Islamabad. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: A senior judge of the Supreme Court has recommended to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to dismiss as unfounded four complaints of misconduct filed against two former chief justices and two judges of the apex court.

Complaints of misconduct were lodged by private citizens against former chief justices Mian Saqib Nisar and Umer Ata Bandial and two judges of the apex court, Justice Ijazul Ahsen and Justice Ayesha A Malik.

One of the complainants informed the Supreme Judicial Council that a three-member bench of the apex court, consisting of former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsen, had heard a case regarding interest. The court’s task was to determine whether it involved compound interest or simple interest. Ultimately, the bench ruled that it was a matter of simple interest. The complainant alleged that when the case was referred back to a lower court, former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar had exerted influence over the judge in the lower court.

The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), a body responsible for holding judges of the superior courts and high-ranking government officials accountable, consists of five members, including the Chief Justice of Pakistan, two most senior judges of Supreme Court and the two most senior chief justices of high courts.

By the Supreme Judicial Council’s procedure, when it receives a complaint of misconduct against a judge, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, as the head of council, refers the complaint to a senior member of the council for review and examination of its contents. After examining the contents of any complaint, the senior member then provides his opinion to the council.

Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, a senior judge, and member of the Supreme Judicial Council, after scrutinising the misconduct complaints found no substantiated claims of misconduct. He recommended that the complaints be declared baseless.

Sources suggest that Justice Sardar Tariq Masood had reasoned that since it was a judicial order issued by the apex court, it did not contain elements of misconduct, and therefore, no disciplinary proceedings could be initiated against the members of the bench.

Similarly, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood had also reviewed another complaint filed against Justice Ayesha A Malik, a judge of the Supreme Court, and concluded that this complaint was also without merit. This complaint had been lodged against Justice Ayesha A. Malik when she was a judge of the Lahore High Court.

It’s worth mentioning that one complaint of misconduct against Justice Sayyed Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, a Supreme Court judge, is still pending with Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, and he has yet to provide his opinion to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

Initially, the misconduct complaint against Justice Sayyed Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi was filed with the council by a lawyer based in Lahore during the tenure of former chief justice Umer Ata Bandial, leveling serious allegations.

Subsequently, the vice-chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) had also filed a misconduct complaint against the judge, requesting an inquiry followed by his removal as a judge of the apex court.

The complaint against the judge was filed after leaked audio recordings allegedly featuring a conversation about influencing the case’s outcome before a specific bench or judge, with former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi, surfaced.