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April 11, 2019

List of Pakistani judges who resigned or were sent home unceremoniously

Islamabad

April 11, 2019

Just six months after Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court was handed over the pink slip and shown the door unceremoniously by President Dr Arif Alvi on the recommendations of the Supreme Judicial Council for his remarks about alleged interference by the country’s premier spy agency in the judicial proceedings, Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan has now resigned as a judge of the Lahore High Court as the top judicial body’s inquiry against him nears completion.

Discharging duties as an LHC judge since February 20, 2010, Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan is the real brother of former Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President, Yawar Irfan, during whose tenure the-then Pakistani President and Army Chief, Gen Pervez Musharraf, had visited the LCCI. This was Musharraf’s inaugural visit to any trade body of the country.

The Supreme Judicial Council had been investigating Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan since his name had surfaced during April 2016 in the Panama Papers list of individuals with offshore companies.

The judge was also accused of running his personal business for a year after taking over as a high court judge against the law that an incumbent arbiter has to disown his business at the time of oath-taking as an adjudicator of the higher judiciary.

The Supreme Judicial Council, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, had summoned Justice Farrukh on Tuesday to record his statement regarding his sources of income etc, but the LHC arbiter opted to relinquish charge instead of facing the council’s five-member bench.

Justice Farrukh’s case was pending before the Supreme Judicial Council for the last three years.

Research conducted by the “Jang Group and Geo Television Network” shows that Justice Farrukh Irfan is not the first Pakistani judge who was either sacked on recommendations of the Supreme Judicial Council or was somehow forcibly made to stage an exit since country’s inception.

On February 28, 2017, another Lahore High Court judge, Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu, had also resigned on a Tuesday, two days before he was scheduled to appear before the Supreme Judicial Council in connection with a corruption reference.

The council was scheduled to take up Justice Sindhu’s case on March 2, 2017 after having issued show cause notices to him.

List of some other major accountability references filed against Pakistani judges:

Research shows that the first-ever reference in the judicial history of the country was filed against Justice Hasan Ali Agha in the Federal Court of Pakistan during 1951, though he was exonerated of all charges.

During a Supreme Court hearing a few years ago, as newspaper archives reveal, an Apex Court arbiter Justice Khalilur Rahman Ramday had observed that all the afore-cited references were filed during the Martial Law regimes except the one against Justice Hasan Ali Agha.

The second reference was filed against Justice Akhlaque Hussain, the third was against Justice Shaukat Ali, the fourth one was filed against Justice Safdar Ali Shah and the fifth was filed against Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

The reference against Justice Akhlaque was made out in Ayub Khan’s regime; Justice Shaikh Shaukat Ali had faced a reference in Gen Yahya Khan’s regime, the then chief justice Peshawar High Court, Justice Safdar Ali Shah, was held guilty in 1978 during Gen Zia’s regime and Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was unsuccessfully proceeded against by Gen Pervez Musharraf.

Justice Akhlaque, Justice Safdar Ali Shah and Justice Shaikh Shaukat Ali were sent home as a result of these references filed by military dictators ruling the country.

Justice Akhlaque had contested his case but was prosecuted and removed from service. One theory is that Akhlaq had to pay for his leftist ideas.

Justice Safdar Shah was alleged to have sought favourable treatment for Abbas Shah, a co-accused in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto case, from a Supreme Court judge.

Justice Shaukat Ali was removed on the charge that he was doing business while being in the judiciary.

Actually he was a co-partner in an arms firm of his family.

One of his brothers, the late Sheikh Salim Ali — also a former Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry President in later years — was mainly looking after the company at The Mall, Lahore.

Justice Shaukat Ali’s family still owns the Metropole Cinema at Abbott Road Lahore, and his sister-in-law looks after the cinema affairs after having lost her only son in a plane crash few years ago.

Justice Sheikh Shaukat Ali was represented in court by Manzoor Qadir and M. Anwar Advocates, while Sharif-ud-Din Pirzada had appeared as Attorney General in this case.

Justice Shaikh Shaukat was removed on the basis of the reference but the decision of his removal had remained controversial and later, he was also elected President of the bar.

Justice Akhlaque Hussain was removed on grounds of misbehavior.

Justice Fazal-e-Ghani was removed in 1970 for having sold a gun he had brought from Britain for personal use.

He was the father of former Pakistani Attorney General Makhdoom Ali Khan.

At that time he was serving as judge of West Pakistan High Court. He resigned and did not contest the charges in the council.

(References: Renowned lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan’s address at the Lahore High Court Bar Association, Dawn newspaper’s editorial of March 12, 2007, Advocate Zafar Iqbal Kalanauri’s research article “Has the Supreme Judicial Council been able to Judge the Judges?” and eminent jurist Hamid Khan’s book “Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan”)

We all know that on March 9, 2007 the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was charged with “misconduct” and “misuse of authority” by President Musharraf and a reference was sent to the Supreme Judicial Council for a decision.

Justice Javed Iqbal (now Chairman NAB) was sworn in as the acting chief justice presumably because Justice Bhagwandas, the senior-most judge after the chief justice, was out of the country.

Iftikhar Chaudhry had appeared before the Supreme Judicial Council for the first time on March 13, 2007.

The resultant civil disorder had led to a Lawyers’ Movement, which succeeded in getting Iftikhar Chaudhry restored as Chief Justice on July 20, 2007.

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