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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to stay proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against a sitting judge of the Lahore High Court, but expressed the confidence that the council would not take any decision that might render infructuous the instant petitions seeking open trial.

The request for staying the SJC hearing was made by senior counsel Hamid Khan, representing Justice Muhammad Farrukh Irfan Khan as well as Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court.

The council will take up a reference against Justice Farrukh on Wednesday.

Council to hear reference against Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan of LHC today

“There is every possibility that our petition may become infructuous in view of what transpired at the last SJC hearing on March 6,” Hamid Khan feared, adding that his request to stay the proceedings had also been turned down by the council on Feb 14.

“We understood what you are saying,” Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed said while heading a five-judge SC bench that had taken up the petitions filed by the two high court judges. He observed that the court did not want to pass any order staying the SJC proceedings unless it was necessary, but “we will not allow these petitions to become infructuous because it was a case of first impression”.

The demand for open trial by a sitting judge had never been decided earlier, Justice Saeed said.

“Do not embarrass us, the court and the system,” Justice Saeed told Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf when the latter, who acts as a prosecutor in the SJC hearing, asked the bench not to pass any stay order and assured it that he would take up the matter during the proceedings of the council and that the petitions would not become infructuous.

In his petition, Justice Farrukh Irfan had sought an open trial of the reference against him on allegation of professional misconduct and requested the apex court to declare the SJC Procedure of Inquiry 2005 unconstitutional as the council could not act on an application which apparently did not contain documents and evidence to prove the allegation.

The apex court decided to resume the hearing briefly on Wednesday (March 14) to consider what the SJC has decided and will then formally take up the petitions of the two judges preferably on March 27.

Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2018