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In an open letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) and all Supreme Court (SC) judges, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi on Tuesday decried that the treatment meted out to him by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) was “nothing short of disgraceful”.

Justice Naqvi is facing complaints of misconduct in the Supreme Judicial Council. On October 27, the SJC issued a sb in connection with 10 complaints lodged against him and directed the judge to submit a reply within two weeks.

Headed by CJP Qazi Faez Isa, the SJC comprises Justice Tariq Masood, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Lahore High Court Chief Justice (CJ) Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, and Balochistan High Court (BHC) CJ Naeem Akhtar.

In a preliminary reply submitted on November 10, Justice Naqvi had cited “serious prejudice” against him and said CJP Isa, Justice Masood and CJ Akhtar should recuse themselves and not hear the matter.

On November 20, Justice Naqvi had contested the SJC proceedings against him and also challenged the show-cause notice issued to him by the council, stating the initiation of proceedings was “coram non-judice” and without lawful authority.

Subsequently, the SJC had issued a fresh show-cause notice to Justice Naqvi, with a direction to come up with his defence by filing a reply within a fortnight.

On December 4, Justice Naqvi had again approached the apex court and expressed his intent to pursue the constitutional petition he had moved earlier seeking to quash the revised show-cause notice issued by the SJC.

On December 6, Justice Naqvi had invited the attention of the SC committee comprising three senior-most judges to the silence over his petitions challenging the issuance of the show-cause notice (SCN) despite the lapse of time as stipulated in the Supreme Court (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023.

Justice Naqvi had also written SJC secretary, stating that he had not received a number of documents, without which, he would not be in a position to prepare his reply to the show-cause notice within time.

In an open letter today, Justice Naqvi said he was compelled to write to the CJP and all the other top court judges due to the “astounding volume of misinformation” surrounding his case before the SJC.

“I write to you today to dispel with that misinformation, to bring your attention the unfortunate details, to bring on record the evidence of the obstruction of justice within the SC,” he said.

“No one shall have the privilege to plead ignorance in this matter should the opportunity come tomorrow,” he added.

Justice Naqvi said the CJP and Justice Masood had written a letter to former CJP Umar Ata Bandial for immediately initiating proceedings against him after the “sham audio-leaks controversy”.

In February, an audio clip allegedly featuring a conversation between the judge and former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi had surfaced.

“I ask that which I have not before: Has the honourable chief justice of Pakistan up until this very moment, been able to exonerate his honour and do away with the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over his and the judiciary’s repute?

“Why is it that a judge with assets legally acquired and declared in his tax returns is being called to question before the SJC when the honourable chief justice remains immune to any such proceedings against his undeclared properties?” Justice Naqvi asked.

“Is there a legal or moral justification for this unreasonable disparity?” he further questioned.

Justice Naqvi said the show-cause notice sent to him in October was afflicted with “grievous legal, constitutional and jurisdictional defects”, which he had communicated in the response submitted on November 10.

He said that the SJC, “instead of meeting the demands of honour and propriety”, issued a revised show-cause notice.

“As a consequence, the SJC inadvertently admitted that the initial show-cause notice was defective, that the proceedings were initiated without any investigation or probe into the veracity of the complaints against me, that the members of the SJC are unfit to oversee the relevant proceedings on account of their decided bias and partiality,” Justice Naqvi said.

“An inconvenient truth is still the truth and so I will state it just the same: The treatment offered to me by the chairman and members of the SJC is nothing short of disgraceful,” the judge added.

He highlighted that he wrote to the SJC via their secretary on 11 instances for the provision of documents necessary for his defence to no avail.

“My requests still have not been complied with. I have written in detail demanding the recusal of the chairman and the two honourable members of the SJC on at least four different occasions. My requests have not been considered, not been responded to,” Justice Naqvi said in the letter.

Justice Naqvi noted that CJP Isa had demanded the recusal of Justice Ahsan and Justice Masood during the proceedings of the presidential reference against him.

“I ask again: Is there a legal or moral justification for this unreasonable disparity, this blatant violation of my fundamental rights […] this clear obstruction of justice that I seek from the most prestigious legal forum in the country?” he said.

Noting that the applications filed by him were fixed before the SC for Dec 15, Justice Naqvi then brought attention to Justice Ahsan’s letter asking CJP Isa to issue a roster originally agreed upon during the meeting of the three-judge committee that fixes cases before different benches.

Justice Ahsan had regretted that the two special benches formed to hear intra-court appeals (ICAs) in the military court case and Justice Naqvi’s challenging the show-cause notice respectively should, be “deemed as not set up by the committee”. To dispel any impression of pick and choose, Justice Ahsan said he had requested that all judges in the order of seniority be included in the ICA bench. The same principle was agreed to hear the case of Justice Naqvi.

“I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to why the […] CJP has decided to constitute such a bench and in a manner such as this,” Justice Naqvi said. He further said that late at night on Dec 11, a letter was delivered to him which stated that the SJC would meet on Thursday (Dec 14).

“This has to be the first time in our unfortunate history that despite having a petition filed, and fixed before a bench […] the SJC has refused to stay said proceedings and convened a further meeting.

“Is the Supreme Court of Pakistan not a higher, more authoritative forum than a biased, questionable SJC. Is this acceptable conduct, and acceptable management of the matter? It is not.”

Justice Naqvi said the “SJC chairman is in blatant, apparent, untethered, and repeated” violation of the law and his fundamental rights. “This act alone is enough to prove a case of rigorous bias” against the top judge, he said.

“I categorically state that I have no faith in the proceedings which he (CJP) is operating. His objective is clear and premeditated,” he added.

Towards the end of the letter, Justice Naqvi stressed that he was suffering the consequences of refusing to play in the hands of the political elite.

The judge added he reserved the right to challenge the “bogus SJC proceedings”, reiterating that “I will see it to the very end”.

“My reputation is significant, the reputation of my seat is more significant,” he said. “This is, therefore, a letter to make it known that it is not a matter of my person now, it is a matter of principle — my issue is now an issue of the institution.”

He ended his letter by saying, “Will the Supreme Court of Pakistan not stand for anything?”

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