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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) found Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi guilty of misconduct and opined “(he) should have been removed from the office of judge (of Supreme Court).”

The SJC, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, who is also Chairman of the SJC, and comprises two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court – Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah –, and Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti and Balochistan High Court (BHC) Chief Justice Naeem Afghan, on Thursday, rendered its opinion on the complaints against the former judge of the apex court, under Article 209(6) of the Constitution.

The council issued notice to a judge of the BHC in respect of complaints received against him to submit his reply/ explanations within 14 days.

The Council’s press release states that the SJC met on February 29, and March 1, 2024. It further states that the allegations are levelled against the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts and the same are publicised. A number of judges have expressed concern that if they respond to such allegations the same may be construed as “misconduct” because the Code of Conduct, dated September 2, 2009, issued by the SJC, in its Article V, states that a judge should not seek publicity.

The Council deliberated upon the matter and was of the opinion that if a reply or clarification is issued by or on behalf of a judge it does not violate Article V. However, since concerns have been expressed by the judges it was agreed that these words be added in Article V of the Code, “However, if an allegation is publicised against a judge he may respond to it.”

Therefore, Article V of the Code of Conduct is amended to read as; “Functioning as he does in full view of the public, a judge gets thereby all the publicity that is good for him. He should not seek more. In particular, he should not engage in any public controversy, least of all on a political question, notwithstanding that it involves a question of law. However, if an allegation is publicized against a judge he may respond to it.”

The statement further states that the SJC considered six different complaints, in chronological order, and in respect of five the opinions expressed by its members to whom it was referred, recommended that there was no substance therein, with which the SJC concurred. However, in respect of complaints submitted against a judge of the BHC the SJC issues notice to submit his reply/explanations within 14 days.

The complaints filed against Justice Naqvi include the complaints of Mian Dawood, a Lahore-based lawyer, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) 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.

A total of 13 prosecution witnesses, including Abdul Ghafar, Deputy Military State Officer, Lahore, Kashif Shehzad, Executive Officer Lahore Cantonment Board, Asif Aziz, Director of a private evaluation company, Muhammad Kashif Rehman, Director of another private evaluation company, Jehangir Khan Khattak, Regional Director NADRA, Lahore, Jazeela Aslam, Secretary SJC, Chaudhry Muhammad Shahbaz, who sold plot to Justice Naqvi, Mohammad Safdar Khan, who purchased House No.114-E, Gulberg, Lahore, from the ex-SC judge, two officials of the Evacuee Trust Property Board regarding two shops in Diyal Singh Mansion, Manager Askari Bank, Cantt branch, Lahore, Malik Zahid Rafiq, owner of Lahore Smart City and Capital Smart City Private Limited, and President of Supreme Court Employees Cooperative Housing Society Sher Afgan appeared before the Council and recorded their statements and provided the relevant documents against Naqvi.

The Council on January 11, 2024, after Mazahar Naqvi’s resignation issued him an “intimation notice” for appearance before it in his personal capacity or through a counsel. It had warned the former judge that if on the next date he or anyone on his behalf would not appear then the Council would proceed with the matter and record the statements of witnesses.

Justice Naqvi tendered his resignation on January 10, in which he wrote; “In the circumstances which are a matter of public knowledge and to some extent public record, it is no longer possible for me to continue to serve as a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, therefore resign as judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan”.

The Council on February 15 decided that they would only record the witnesses’ statements, but the final outcome of its proceedings would be after the Supreme Court verdict on the federation’s appeal whether the SJC can proceed against a judge who has resigned or retired.

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Aminud Din Khan, on February 21, by a majority of 4 to 1 held that if the SJC initiates proceedings against a judge then it shall not abate with his resignation or retirement, and it is prerogative of the Council to continue with the matter accordingly.

The Council on various hearings had provided an opportunity to Naqvi to appear himself of through his counsel(s) to defend him. However, on February 29, Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman informed the SJC that Mazahar Naqvi wrote a letter to the Council’s secretary. He only read the operative part of the letter, which states; “I am not attending the Council proceedings, but reserve the right to approach an appropriate forum for redressal of grievances.” The former judge on February 16 had cancelled the power of attorney that he had extended to senior advocate Khawaja Haris to represent him before the Council.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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KU Mar 08, 2024 10:55am
Is he the only one to be prosecuted and declared guilty? Their are scores of lower court judges who have similar complaints against them, including gross misinterpretation of law, any action on them?
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