ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) hearing a complaint against a judge of the Lahore High Court on Wednesday accepted a request from the judge’s defence counsel of giving up 37 defence witnesses in lieu of six, including former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
The witnesses who will now likely appear on behalf of LHC judge Justice Muhammad Farrukh Irfan Khan are Justice Chaudhry, Nisar Bhatti, Sanjeev Kumar Patel from the United Arab Emirates, Syed Mubashir Ali and Iseeb-ur-Rehman from London, in addition to the judge himself.
Headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, the five-judge SJC postponed further proceedings till Monday, when statements of all the witnesses would be recorded. Cross-examination of the witnesses would also be carried out.
Senior counsel Hamid Khan, who was representing Justice Khan, requested the council to order the government to facilitate the issuance of visas to the witnesses so that they could arrive in Pakistan on time.
The council, however, cautioned that in addition to the six witnesses no other witness would be allowed to record his/her statement.
The council again rejected the request to summon the former chief justice of Pakistan, but said that if Justice Chaudhry wanted to appear on his own, he could do so to testify to the evidence he had given in the shape of an affidavit.
Chief Justice Nisar observed that Justice Chaudhry should have known that the affidavit had no value unless the deponent was cross-examined.
In his affidavit, Justice Chaudhry defended Justice Khan by stating that he did not receive any complaint nor receive any adverse remarks or report from any member of the public, bar, judge of the high court or the chief justice of the Lahore High Court during his tenure as the chief justice of Pakistan and that the sitting judge was also not short-tempered or disrespectful to the members of the bar or litigants or to the government officials.
On the contrary, during his tenure as judge of the high court, Justice Khan conducted himself with the “highest dignity and judicial guise” and his elevation and working as a judge added to the respect and decorum of the institution.
Justice Khan, the affidavit contended, had always enjoyed a very good reputation amongst his brother judges, the bar and the litigants as an upright, honest, hardworking and dedicated judge.
Justice Chaudhry further said that he had nominated and elevated Justice Khan not only due to his vast legal and international experience, but also because he was an honest and upright citizen.
Moreover, Justice Khan was a successful lawyer both in Pakistan and at the international forums and was respected as a professional lawyer by all, Justice Chaudhry said, adding that Justice Khan had disclosed to him about his practice in the UAE, factum of owning properties and that he was working in the boards of different charitable organisations prior to his elevation.
Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2019