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PHC orders sessions judge’s compulsory retirement

Updated October 12, 2018

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Peshawar High Court. — File Photo
Peshawar High Court. — File Photo

PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth on Thursday ordered the compulsory retirement of district and sessions judge Mohammad Azim Khan Afridi over misconduct.

The judge was punished for scandalising judiciary through a malicious campaign, said high court registrar Khwaja Wajihuddin.

The registrar issued two notifications announcing Azim Afridi’s compulsory retirement from service under Rule 4(1)(b)(ii) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government Servants (Efficiency and Disciplinary) Rules, 2011.

Azim Afridi punished for scandalising judiciary, says court registrar

Mr Afridi was elevated as an additional judge of the Islamabad High Court in 2011 on quota for Fata.

However, the judicial commission for appointment of judges didn’t confirm him as the high court judge in 2012 and therefore, he resumed his service as the district and sessions judge in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Thereafter, he began a legal battle by moving the Islamabad and Peshawar high courts for relief on the matter.

Last year, the sessions judge sent a letter to the country’s president requesting him to refer the issue of his non-confirmation by the judicial commission to the parliamentary committee.

He however didn’t get the relief from both forums.

As sessions judge, Mr Afridi had leveled different allegations against a former Supreme Court chief justice and some other judges and alleged mala fide intent on their part by not confirming him as high court judge.

He was subsequently suspended by the PHC chief justice in Apr 2018.

The first notification issued by the PHC pertained to a complaint filed by Saifur Rehman in 2013, which was received by the PHC through the Supreme Court’s human rights cell.

The complainant had leveled four charges against Mr Afridi.

The first three charges pertained to his alleged support to a criminal required to Saudi Arabia in some cases. The fourth allegation against him was that the accused/office had written ridiculous articles against the judges of superior courts which were available on his website.

Mr Afridi had alleged that the said complainant was a drug baron and had leveled baseless allegations against him.

That case continued to linger on for many years and finally an inquiry officer submitted his report on Sept 14, 2018. The inquiry officer gave clearance to the officer on the first three charges, whereas about the fourth charge the inquiry officer observed that the officer had got himself engaged in some social media campaign and activities which were uncalled for and recommended for issuing of strict warning to him to be careful in future and observe discipline in the department.

However, the chief justice did not agree with the recommendation of the inquiry officer for issuance of strict warning to the officer and observe that the officer was liable for imposition of a major penalty as provided in the concerned rules.

It observed that the rules didn’t empower the inquiry officer or inquiry committee to recommend the extent of penalty to be imposed.

“As he has on his credit pensionable service and therefore, with leniency in awarding him major penalty his compulsory retirement from service will commensurate to the misconduct committed by the accused/officer,” the chief justice ruled.

The second notification said Mr Afridi had on Mar 20, 2018, submitted a complaint before the President of Pakistan, the prime minister, the speaker National assembly, the Senate chairman and others directly without adopting the proper channel, which was a breach of service discipline and thus, amounting to gross misconduct.

It added that the complaint contained remarks and scandalous narrations against a former chief justice of Pakistan, serving Supreme Court judges and chief justice, and high court judges, which was tantamount to ridiculing the judiciary.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2018