ISLAMABAD: In an in-camera session, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Wednesday discharged a show-cause notice issued to a senior judge of the Lahore High Court (LHC) facing a reference on misconduct charges.

Headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, the SJC — a constitutional forum which examines conduct of superior court judges and recommends removal of erring judges — had taken up the reference against Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. He was issued a show-cause notice by the SJC on April 19, 2016 on alleged misconduct.

The reference was initiated against the judge on the basis of a Jan 2014 judgement in which the Supreme Court had taken a strong exception to the way the judge had entertained a bail application of an accused and described it as colourable exercise of jurisdiction.

The conduct of the judge had also compelled the apex court to develop guidelines to be followed by all the high court judges and magistrates while granting bail in criminal cases.

The principles regarding bail matters so developed were enunciated by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa in the judgement while deciding two review petitions, one of them moved by the judge facing reference before SJC.

However on June 2, Justice Khosa recused himself from hearing the reference against the judge, citing personal reasons but also emphasising he had no personal bias against the judge.

Then defending the high court judge, senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed had raised objection to Justice Khosa’s presence in the SJC.

Earlier Justice Naqvi had also moved a petition before the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution challenging the show-cause notice issued to him by the SJC.

The petition had requested the apex court to declare the show-cause notice and all acts leading to the issuance of the notice as unlawful, unconstitutional, without jurisdiction and contrary to public interest and violative of Articles 209(5) (SJC), 9 (security of person), 10A (fair trial), 19 (freedom of speech) and 25 (equality of citizens).

Later the judge had withdrawn the petition from the Supreme Court on the grounds that he had also raised objection before SJC therefore there was no need of a parallel hearing.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2018

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