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Friday April 12, 2024

SJC tells Mazahar he can cross-examine witnesses

Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa observed if the respondent judge wishes, he can cross-examine the witnesses through his counsel

By Our Correspondent
March 01, 2024
Justice (retd) Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. — SC Website
Justice (retd) Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. — SC Website

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Thursday observed if former judge Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi wishes, he can cross-examine the witnesses through his counsel.

The SJC, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa being the Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), conducted the proceedings on the misconduct complaints filed against former judge of the Supreme Court Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. Other members of the Council included Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Chief Justice Lahore High Court Justice Amir Bhatti.

The council sought relevant documents from private witness, Lahore Smart City and Capital Smart City owner Zahid Rafique, in the case of allegations of misconduct against former Supreme Court judge Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.

During the hearing, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa observed if the respondent judge wishes, he can cross-examine the witnesses through his counsel. The Chief Justice said that if no one appeared from the respondent judge, it will be considered that he has nothing to defend himself.

The council recorded the statements of two more witnesses while the manager of a private bank came forward and presented the council, record of two bank drafts worth Rs5 crore each used in the purchase of a plot. During the hearing, private witness Chaudhry Shahbaz appeared before the council and recorded his statement on oath. The council asked him whether any case of his late wife Bisma Warsi was ever heard in the court of Justice Mazahar Naqvi.

Chaudhry Shahbaz replied that the case of his wife’s check dishonor was going on in the court of Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.

Similarly, Zahid Rafique, owner of Capital Smart City and Lahore Smart City, while recording his statement before the council on oath, submitted that he has eight companies for the last four decades and associated with the construction field. He further submitted that he met Mazahar Naqvi through land provider Raja Safdar. Justice Qazi Faez Isa inquired from Zahid Rafique why Smart City paid five crore rupees to Chaudhry Shehbaz on behalf of Mazahar Naqvi.

Zahid Rafique replied that they paid to Raja Safdar. When asked about the meetings with ex-judge Mazahar Naqvi, he said that he went to the house of Justice Mazahar twice and met him.

On council’s query, Zahid Rafique said that he knows the two sons of Naqvi adding that their company used to pay one and a half lakh rupees per month to the law firm of Mazahar Naqvi’s sons. He further told the council said that the daughter of Justice Mazahar needed money in London in an emergency adding that Raja Safdar asked him to pay and he then sent five thousand pounds to London to the daughter of Justice Naqvi through his friend based in Dubai. On the inquiry of the council, he said that the amount of five thousand pounds sent to London was not yet returned to them.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah inquired whether Raja Safdar ever made him meet with any other judge to which Zahid Rafique said that he did not meet with any other judge. He further told the council that on April 16, 2019, two plots of 500 square yards were given to the two sons of Mazahar Naqvi adding that the value of each plot was 54 lakh rupees. He submitted that only ten percent of the amount was paid adding that both the plots have been transferred to the two sons of Mazahar Naqvi.

On the inquiry of the council, Zahid Rafiq said, “We continue to benefit our friends,” adding that two hundred square yard commercial plots in Smart City Lahore were given to the two sons of Mazahar Naqvi and the price per plot was 80 lakh rupees. The sons sold both the commercial plots but at what price he did not know, Zaid Rafique told the council, adding that he also attended the wedding of one of Justice Mazahar Naqvi’s sons. During the hearing, Additional Prosecutor Chaudhry Aamir Rehman told the council that nothing was proved from the record against Naqvi’s Allied Plaza.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Judicial Council adjourned the hearing till today (Friday) and asked Zahid Rafiq to provide the relevant documents.

Meanwhile, former judge of the Supreme Court Justice (R) Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi has expressed serious reservations about the ongoing proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and has refused to be a part of it, saying that the action of the Council against him is illegal, unconstitutional and against the SJC rules.

Justice Naqvi, in a letter addressed to SJC secretary on Thursday, rejected all the allegations made against him in the complaints and raised objections to the Council Chairman Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and members Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah.

“The three persons have prejudice against me hence my position should be placed before the SJC that my legal right to appeal against any action of the Council is reserved and when the time comes, I will approach the relevant forum for proceedings,” Justice Naqvi wrote.

The former judge submitted that he resigned from his position as a judge of the Supreme Court on January 10, 2024 and the president accepted the resignation and published it in the official gazette on January 31.

“The action against me after the resignation is unconstitutional and illegal,” Justice Naqvi responded to the notice issued by the SJC on February 26 adding that he had replied with objections on January 15 to the Council’s order of January 12 and informed the Council about his principled stand that all the actions are unconstitutional, illegal and against the rules.

While raising objections to Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Naqvi said that the two mentioned judges wrote to the-then SJC chairman Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial to initiate immediate action on the issue of embarrassing audio leaks and complained to the Council.

“Before coming, I was called the respondent judge and being forced, I also replied to the letters of both the judges and made it clear that both of them have prejudice against me,” Justice Naqvi wrote.

The former judge, while raising objections to another SJC member Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, has raised an objection and said that the distinguished judge mentioned in the suo motu case of 2023 had written a separate note on his joining the said bench and held that the Pakistan Bar Council had filed a complaint against him in the SJC, so it should be processed first and a decision should be taken.

Justice Naqvi said when Justice Mansoor Ali Shah had expressed his mind against him in his note, his involvement in the SJC proceedings against him is a serious violation of the constitutional requirements of transparent trial and due process of law.

The former judge submitted when the-then chairman Justice Umar Atta Bandial referred the matter to Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, an SJC member to seek his opinion on the complaints filed against him, Justice Masood did not respond for three months and 27 days.

Earlier, the said judge and Justice Qazi Faez Isa had written to the SJC chairman for immediate action against him, Justice Naqvi wrote adding that the purpose of the delay in the opinion by Justice Sardar Tariq Masood was to change the composition of the council and bring in a new chairman and members to take action against him on the charges leveled for false and political purposes.

The former judge further submitted that in a letter to Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial on July 12, 2023, he had clearly expressed about this bias of the above judges.

He further submitted that the SJC, rejecting the opinion of two members, issued a show cause notice to him on Oct 27, 2023 by a majority of three to two, issuing the show cause notice without ascertaining his position and examining the content of the complaints.

“I wrote four letters from October 2 to October 8, 2023 requesting to provide the minutes of the Judicial Commission dated March 4, 2020 so that I can prove that the said judges are biased against me,” Justice Naqvi wrote to SJC secretary.

The former judge further said he gave an initial reply to the show cause notice on October 10 and raised questions on the constitutionality of the Council’s action, but his objections were not answered adding that on November 13, in complete violation of the Supreme Judicial Council’s code of conduct, he was summoned.

“I wrote another letter to the Supreme Judicial Council on November 16, reiterating my objections and filed a petition against the council’s action in the Supreme Court when the objections were not acted upon,” the former judge wrote

He further submitted that despite the fact he had filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the established rules, the complainants were summoned for three consecutive days on November 20, 21 and 22 and were given full permission to state their case while he watched the proceedings and sat silently.

Surprisingly, on the occasion of the action of the council, a lavish hi-tea was also organised for the modesty of the complainants, the purpose of this action was to make my objections ineffective, Justice Naqvi wrote.

After three days of proceedings, Justice Naqvi said that he was once again issued a show cause notice by a majority of four to one which proved that the first notice was unconstitutional and illegal. He further submitted that the second notice issued by the council was also illegal and he continued to face injustice, but despite all the abuses, he did not leave the legal way and on November 22, wrote two more letters to the Supreme Judicial Council, requesting that two judges should recuse themselves from the proceedings.

The former judge requested that as he had filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the matter, therefore, the council should stop further proceedings until the decision of the petition and he should be provided the dissenting note of Justice Ijazul Ahsen.

Justice Naqvi submitted that in the second letter, the committee was requested to fix his petition for early hearing but instead of replying to his letters during the proceedings, the chairman of council told his counsel that they were not bound to reply to these letters even though it was a constitutional and legal requirement to facilitate the aggrieved party during judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings and to do so the council is responsible.

He submitted that the Supreme Judicial Council violated the settled principles by calling a meeting on December 14 before the hearing on the constitutional petition.

The former judge further submitted that his son, who is financially independent, was summoned and asked for an explanation on the financial matters, although the Supreme Court has decided in the review of Justice Qazi’s case that the judge cannot be held accountable for the financial affairs of a financially independent family.

Justice Naqvi submitted that Attorney General was appointed as the prosecutor against him while most of the complaints against him were prepared under the supervision of the Pakistan Bar Council and Attorney General is the chairman of the Bar Council.

The former judge contended that the list of witnesses against him was kept secret by the Supreme Judicial Council and was not given to him despite his repeated requests.

He further submitted that the Supreme Court has declared in the Aafia Sherbano case that action cannot be taken by the Supreme Judicial Council against the retired judge, but the proceedings of the council were stopped in the middle to give the federal government an opportunity to file an overdue review petition against the said decision adding that before the verdict of the Sherbano Nazar case, a meeting of the Supreme Judicial Council was called on February 15 and 16 and the statements of witnesses were recorded.