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ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) will meet today to hear complaints against SC judges, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi filed a petition before the Supreme Court, terming the malicious campaign and consequent complaints against him as a direct and flagrant attack on the independence of the judiciary.
The SC judge also accused the SJC of subjecting him to a “media trial” that has further defamed and ridiculed him in the public eye.
Justice Naqvi’s plea challenged the show-cause notice sent to him by the judicial panel on October 27.
The SJC, for its part, was scheduled to meet today after Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa called its meeting on Friday to review complaints against Justices Sayyed Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi and Sardar Tariq Masood .
“These are violative and inconsistent with the right of access to justice guaranteed by Articles 4, 9 and 10A of the Constitution,” it said, adding that Judge Naqvi reserves the right to “call for further reasons and present additional material in support of them at the time of the hearing”.
The Supreme Court judge, in this petition, mentioned that the complaints against him are “in bad faith and are not valid.”
“The procedures of the SJC and the SCN are incompetent, coram non judice and void ab initio. They lack legal authority and have no legal effect,” the plea reads.
He added that these complaints raise the following issue of public importance regarding the observance of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
In his statement, Judge Naqvi asked the following questions:
1. If the very initiation of the procedure by the SJC and the show cause notice lack legal authority, they have no legal effect and violate Article 209 of the Constitution and the Regulations, as well as the legal and constitutional rights of the petitioner. ?
2. Do the SCN and the hearing notice comply with the legal and constitutional requirements established by the SC?
3. Do the SJC and SCN procedures violate the principles of natural justice, due process and fair trial?
4. Whether the SJC proceedings were initiated and carried out in an ex facie discriminatory manner and therefore violate, among others, Articles 4, 10A, 14 and 25 of the Constitution?
5. Whether the involvement of CJP Isa, Puisne Chief Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan in the SJC proceedings which resulted in the petitioner being issued the show cause notice makes that all orders issued in such proceedings are without legal authority and without legal effect?
6. Can any declared asset constitute a basis for proceeding against a judge in a lawsuit by a person unrelated to the alleged transaction, when no notification or procedure has been initiated by the registering or fiscal authority?
Justice Naqvi, in his argument, held that a declared asset cannot become a basis for proceeding against a judge in a complaint filed by a person who is unrelated to the alleged transaction when no notification or procedure has been initiated by the registering or tax authority.
It has urged the high court to declare the initiation of proceedings by the SJC coram non judice, without legal authority and without legal effect, and quash it.
The judge has asked that the alleged notice of October 28 and the hearing notice of November 13 be declared without “legal authority and without legal effect”, urging that they be “annulled.”
He has also sought relief from the high court, which found it fit and proper.
SJC issues show cause notice to Judge Naqvi
Last month, the SJC issued a show-cause notice to Justice Naqvi over the complaints registered against him, following which the judge was asked to file his reply by November 10.
Justice Naqvi, in his reply, raised objections on CJP Isa and two other members of the council.
“Your participation in the proceedings, which resulted in me being issued a show cause notice, taints those proceedings, among other things, with bias and renders all orders issued in such proceedings lacking legal authority and having no legal effect ” Justice Naqvi said of Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan in the 18-page document submitted to the SJC.
The judge objected that CJP Isa and Justice Afghan, being the chairman and member of the inquiry commission respectively, probing the audio leak case against them, cannot participate in the SJC proceedings against them.
“He [inquiry commission] The proceedings are sub judice. The same alleged audio leaks that were referred to the commission of inquiry are the subject of the complaints against me before the SJC. The SRO is still in the field. SRO 596(I)/2023 dated May 19, 2023 is attached as Annexure L. Order of the Supreme Court dated May 26, 2023, approved in Constitutional Petitions No.14 to 17 of 2023 is attached as Annexure M “, he claimed.
Justice Naqvi then urged the two judges to recuse themselves from hearing the complaints against him in the SJC.
He further held the same about Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, basing his objection on the claim that the judge is “disqualified from hearing such complaints as a member of the SJC after having expressed an opinion on the complaints against me.”
Complaints against SC judges
Apart from Justice Naqvi, complaints have been filed against other judges of the high court. However, it is unclear whether notices or actions against other judges were discussed.
Justice Masood, senior judge of the Supreme Court and member of the SJC, had submitted his legal opinion on allegations of misconduct leveled against Justice Naqvi of the high court in September this year, according to The News.
Several allegations of misconduct were leveled against Justice Naqvi during the tenure of former Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial. Justice (retd) Bandial had referred the matter to Justice Masood for consideration and legal opinion from him.
Initially, the misconduct complaint against Justice Naqvi was filed before the SJC by a Lahore-based lawyer, Muhammad Dawood. Later, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice-chairman Haroon Rashid filed a misconduct complaint against the Supreme Court judge after an audio leak emerged purporting to feature a conversation about fixing the case before a court or judge in particular with former Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi.
Earlier in April, Justice Isa and Justice Masood urged the then CJP Bandial to convene the SJC meeting to consider the allegations of misconduct leveled against Justice Naqvi.
In a joint letter addressed to all members of the SJC, both judges had said that they were “waiting for you to convene a meeting of the Council to consider the complaints and determine whether there is merit in the allegations expressed; “We must exonerate the defendant judge and fully restore his honor or present our report in the terms of the Constitution.”
Both senior judges said written complaints were received, including from the PBC, alleging misconduct and financial irregularity on the part of Justice Naqvi.