Thursday, November 30, 2023

Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi moves SC against SJC notice

This is second petition filed by Justice Naqvi against SJC proceedings initiated against him on complaints

A billboard pointing towards the Supreme Court of Pakistan building. — Reuters/File
A billboard pointing towards the Supreme Court of Pakistan building. — Reuters/File 

  • Justice Naqvi challenges SJC proceedings once again. 
  • He says complaints against him politically motivated. 
  • Judgee says notice sent without determining veracity of complaints.

ISLAMABAD: Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi Thursday approached the Supreme Court challenging the revised show cause notices issued to him by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), which he contends, are “politically motivated complaints”.

The judge, through his legal team, has filed a petition against the revised show cause notice and the SJC proceedings being pursued against him. In the plea, he has also responded to the 10 allegations put forward against him.

In the petition, Justice Naqvi contends that the complaints against him are politically motivated due to the verdict on the Punjab elections taken after the suo motu proceedings initiated by former chief justice Umar Ata Bandial during the hearing of the Ghulam Mehmood Dogar case.

The judge further contends that the Shehbaz Sharif-led federal government wanted to delay the polls and his cabinet later started a “malicious campaign” against him. He also contended that the Pakistan Bar Council and other organisations or lawyers met with then-PM and after that, they started “targeting” him.

“It is evident that the so-called complaints filed against the Petitioner before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) are politically motivated. These were filed simply because the Petitioner in performance of his solemn duty to protect and safeguard the Constitution highlighted the constitutional violation in delaying general election to the Punjab Provincial Assembly,” said the plea. 

In the petition, the SC judge has contended that the revised notice was sent to him by the SJC “without first determining the veracity of the so-called complaints and/or bona fide of the so-called complainants” contrary to the rules.

Justice Naqvi, further contends, that by issuing the revised notice the SJC admitted that the first show cause was neither “valid nor proper”. 

He also contends that before issuing the notice, the SJC did not consider his request for the reconstitution of the forum as he had appealed in an earlier petition.

“The Revised showcause notice is also contrary to the consistent practice followed by the SJC. When proceedings of the SJC are challenged before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the SJC has not proceeded with the matter further till the matter is decided by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. This procedure was followed in the case of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Qazi Faez Isa, now Chief Justice of Pakistan. In view of this practice, the Petitioner sought stay of the proceedings of SJC vide application dated 22.11.2023. No order has been passed on this application,” said the petition.

The judge has appealed to the apex court to quash the initial show cause notice, hearing notice and the revised notice. He also contends that he was not informed of the procedure that was followed against him in SJC.

The judge has also challenged the power of the SJC secretary to issue the notice, contending that as per Article 210 of the Constitution, the council has the authority, “to issue directions or orders for securing the attendance of any person or the discovery or production of any document”.

”No such power is vested in the Secretary, SJC,” said the judge. He also stated that the allegations stated in the revised notice are “false and baseless” and neither are they backed by evidence therefore they are not sustainable.

In the plea, the judge has also asked the apex court to consider the grounds raised in the earlier petition as an “integral part of this petition”..

The judge has prayed to the court: “Declare that the initiation of proceedings by the SJC are coram non judice, without lawful authority and of no legal effect and quash the same; (ii) Declare that the purported Revised SCN dated 24.11.2023 is without lawful authority and of no legal effect and quash the same; (iii) Grant any other relief that this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper.”

SJC issues another notice to Justice Naqvi

Last week, after days of deliberations on misconduct complaints against Justice Naqvi, the SJC issued another show-cause notice to the top court judge.

The notice, issued with a majority of four to one, sought clarification from Justice Naqvi on 10 points within 14 days, according to sources within the SJC.

The SJC meeting on the third consecutive day was held under the chairmanship of Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Justice Amir Bhatti, and Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court Justice Naeem Afghan attended the meeting as members of the top judicial body.

During the lengthy sessions, complaints were thoroughly examined, and after assessing the content of the complaints, the council decided to proceed with the complaints, the source added.

Following the deliberations, it was resolved, with a majority of four to one, to issue a show-cause notice to Justice Mazhar Naqvi and to further enhance the proceedings of the SJC.

According to the sources, Justice Ahsan dissented with the majority decision to issue a show-cause notice to the apex court judge.

Misconduct complaints

Several misconduct complaints were filed against Justice Naqvi during the tenure of former chief justice Umar Ata Bandial. Justice (retd) Bandial had referred the matter to Justice Masood for examining it and giving his legal opinion.

Initially, the misconduct complaint against Justice Naqvi was filed with the SJC by a Lahore-based lawyer Muhammad Dawood. Later on, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice Chairman Haroon Rashid filed a misconduct complaint against the SC judge after an audio leak emerged purportedly featuring a conversation about the fixation of the case before a particular bench or judge with former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi.

Earlier in April, Justice Isa and Justice Masood urged then CJP Bandial to convene the meeting of the SJC for the consideration of misconduct complaints filed against Justice Naqvi.

In a joint letter addressed to all the members of the SJC, both the judges had said 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”.

Both the senior judges said that written complaints were received, including from the PBC alleging misconduct and financial impropriety by Justice Naqvi.