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Wednesday July 17, 2024

Justice Naqvi objects to ‘biased’ members of SJC

Justice Mazahir objected that CJP Isa and Justice Afghan cannot participate in the SJC’s proceedings against him as they are chairman and member of the inquiry commission, respectively

By Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui
November 11, 2023
Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. — SC Website
Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. — SC Website

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court’s Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi — who was due to submit his reply to the show cause notice issued to him by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on complaints registered against him on Friday — instead raised objections on Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and two other members of the council.

“Their participation in the proceedings resulting in a show cause notice being issued to me taints those proceedings, inter alia, with bias and makes all orders passed in such proceedings as being without lawful authority and of no legal effect,” Justice Naqvi stated about the top judge and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan in the 18-page document submitted to the SJC.

The judge objected that CJP Isa and Justice Afghan being the chairman and member of the inquiry commission, respectively, investigating the audio leaks case against him, cannot participate in the SJC’s proceedings against him.

“The [inquiry commission] proceedings are sub judice. The same alleged audio leaks which were referred to the inquiry commission are subject matter of the complaints against me before SJC. The SRO is still in the field. S.R.O. 596(I)/2023 dated May 19, 2023 is attached as Annex L. Order of the Supreme Court dated May 26, 2023, passed in Constitution Petitions No.14 to 17 of 2023 is attached as Annexure M,” he stated.

Justice Naqvi then urged the two judges to recuse themselves from hearing the complaints against him in the SJC.

Moreover, he maintained the same about Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, basing his objection on the claim that the judge is “disqualified from hearing those complaints as a member of SJC after having expressed an opinion on the complaints against me”.

He said that Justice Masood’s opinion expressed in a couple of letters established that “he has already formed a view in the matter”.

Justice Naqvi said that Justice Masood deliberately delayed his opinion till the change in the composition of the SJC following former CJP Umar Ata Bandial.

Moreover, the judge maintained that Justice Masood is also one of the judges who are facing a complaint against him before the SJC.

Justice Naqvi also stated in his objections that the proceedings against him are discriminatory and violative of Article 25 of the Constitution.

“The complaints against me are frivolous. They are all based on conjecture and false allegations. None are supported by evidence. They are, therefore, liable to be dismissed,” he maintained. He added that “there was no discussion or enquiry into the allegations” against him. Justice Naqvi sought the details of the reference against him in the SJC and all the evidence and records related to it before any orders on the matter.

“I also reserve my right to submit that the proceedings against me are politically motivated and lack legality, propriety and transparency.”

The show-cause notice was issued to Justice Naqvi a day after the SJC met — for the first time in three years to discuss complaints filed against superior court judges — under CJP Isa.

SJC is the only constitutional forum that has the power to remove judges of superior courts on different charges.

It is a forum of accountability of judges of the superior courts and top government officials, which is comprised of five members, including the Chief Justice of Pakistan, two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, and two most senior chief justices of high courts.

Besides Justice Naqvi, complaints have been filed against other judges of the superior court. However, it is unclear whether notices or action against other judges was discussed.

Justice Masood, senior judge of the Supreme Court and member of SJC, had submitted his legal opinion on the misconduct complaints filed against apex court Justice Naqvi in September this year, according to The News.

Several misconduct complaints were filed against Justice Naqvi during the tenure of former chief justice Umar Ata Bandial. Justice (retd) Bandial had referred the matter to Justice Masood for examining it and giving his legal opinion.

Initially, the misconduct complaint against Justice Naqvi was filed with the SJC by a Lahore-based lawyer Muhammad Dawood. Later on, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice Chairman Haroon Rashid filed misconduct complaint against the SC judge after an audio leaks emerged purportedly featuring a conversation about the fixation of the case before a particular bench or judge with former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi.