SJC proceedings against judge to continue even after resignation, rules SC

Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui | Maryam Nawaz
February 21, 2024

Five-member SC bench partially accepts federal govt's appeal against Afia Sheharbano Zia’s case

Police officers walk past the Supreme Court of Pakistan building, in Islamabad, Pakistan April 6, 2022. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) proceedings once initiated cannot be halted even after the resignation or retirement of a judge.

A five-member larger bench Justice Amin-ud-din Khan announced the short verdict and partially accepted the federal government’s intra-court appeal (ICA) against its judgment delivered in 2023 in Afia Sheharbano Zia’s case.

The other members of the bench included Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Hassan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Musarrat Hilali, and Justice Irfan Saadat Khan.

"Both the appeals are partially allowed to the extent that if the proceedings have already been initiated by the Supreme Judicial Council (‘SJC’) against a Judge, same shall not abate on his resignation or retirement, as the case may be, during such proceedings," read the short order.

The top court in Afia Sheharbano Zia’s case held that the judges who retire or resign do not fall within the ambit of Article 209 of the Constitution that determines misconduct of the superior court judges.

In the short verdict today, the apex court ruled that it’s the discretion of the SJC whether or not to proceed against a judge in a pending complaint.

Four of the five judges of the bench declared the ICA maintainable, while Justice Rizvi dissented with the majority verdict to the extent of the appeal being time-barred.

The SC said the detailed reasons for the verdict will be issued later.

The federation — through secretary law and justice — had filed the ICA with the apex court under Section 5 of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 read with Article 184(3) of the Constitution against the judgment dated June 27, 2023 delivered in Afia Sheharbano’s case.

The federal government had prayed the apex court to set aside the impugned judgment after allowing the instant ICA.

It was also prayed to hold that a judge against whom the proceedings were initiated under Article 209 of the Constitution ought to be proceeded against and his resignation would not result in abatement of such proceedings.

It is pertinent to mention that the need for challenging the judgment in Afia Sheharbano was propped up after the resignation tendered by Sayyed Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, judge of the Supreme Court, when the SJC is proceeding against the judge on misconduct complaints filed by various lawyers as well as the Pakistan Bar Council.


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