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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Friday issued a show cause notice to Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, a Supreme Court judge, to reply to the complaints filed against him within two weeks.

Ten complaints were filed against Justice Naqvi.

The council, by a majority of three to two, decided to issue him show-cause notices, together with copies of the complaints, and to seek his reply within fourteen days of the receipt thereof, whereas, the members in minority stated that they needed more time to consider the complaints against him.

The Council headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, and comprising two senior most judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti and Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Naeem Afghan met at the Supreme Court building on Friday.

Justice Qazi had convened the SJC meeting; 1.) To consider complaints which are ripe, and 2.) Any other matter with the permission of the Chair. The Council comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Chief Justice, next two senior judges of the Supreme Court, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan and two senior most chief justices of the High Courts, Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan considered 29 complaints, out of which,19 were dismissed. It was decided to inform the judges who were complained against, and the legal heirs of those who had passed away.

The Council noted that frivolous complaints were filed by some lawyers, whom the Council decided to caution.

One complaint was filed against a judge of the Supreme Court who is a member of the Council. Accordingly, the Council was reconstituted by requesting Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, the next judge in seniority in the Supreme Court, to take his seat on the Council on the recusal of Justice Ijazul Ahsan. This complaint was dismissed.

One complaint was filed by Amna Malik against Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, who requested that since she had made the complaint public, the Council should take it up and determine its veracity. Therefore, the Council was reconstituted by requesting Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, the next judge in seniority in the Supreme Court, to take his seat on the Council on the recusal of Justice Sardar Tariq Masood.

The Council considered the complaint but found that requisite material was not attached with it; therefore, it directed Amna Malik to produce material in support of her complaint, and upon its receipt the Secretary to provide it to Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, who may respond thereto. The Council also summoned Amna Malik to be present in the next meeting of the Council, when Justice Sardar Tariq Masood may also be present to give his point of view.

According to the press release issued by secretary SJC, since the Council is a separate constitutional body it discussed whether it would be appropriate to constitute a separate secretariat for it, with a full-time secretary and requisite staff.

It was decided that the registrar of the Supreme Court, who is acting as the Secretary of the Council, submit a working paper in this regard to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, who may amend or substitute it, which will then be circulated for consideration of the other members.

To stem speculation and in the interest of transparency, the Council directed the secretary to issue a press release of its meeting.

The Supreme Judicial Council last met in July 2021, when Justice Gulzar Ahmed was the Chief Justice of Pakistan, and since then more complaints have been received. During the tenure of ex-CJP Umar Ata Bandial no meeting of the SJC was held.

The complaints filed against Justice Naqvi include the complaints of Mian Dawood, a Lahore-based lawyer, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Lawyers Forum Punjab, PBC Vice Chairperson Haroon Rasheed and Council’s Chairperson Executive Committee Hasan Raza Pasha and Advocate Ghulam Murtaza Khan, for amassing illegitimate assets and misconduct.

Justice Bandial, despite receiving complaints against Justice Naqvi and other SC judges, did not hold the SJC meeting. In April this year, Justice Faez and Justice Masood, the most senior judges of the apex court, wrote a letter to the then CJP Bandial to convene the meeting of the SJC for the consideration of misconduct complaints filed against Justice Naqvi. Both the senior judges in the letter stated that written complaints were received, including from the Pakistan Bar Council alleging misconduct and financial impropriety by Justice Naqvi.

They asked the former chief justice that they were “waiting for you to convene a meeting of the Council to consider the complaints and to ascertain whether there is a substance in the stated allegations; we must exonerate the respondent judge and fully restore his honour or else submit our report in terms of the Constitution”.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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