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LHC judge named in Panama Papers resigns

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ustice Mohammad Farrukh Ifran Khan of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday tendered his resignation apparently to avoid possible removal by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) in a reference. — Photo courtesy LHC website/File
ustice Mohammad Farrukh Ifran Khan of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday tendered his resignation apparently to avoid possible removal by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) in a reference. — Photo courtesy LHC website/File

LAHORE: Justice Mohammad Farrukh Ifran Khan of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday tendered his resignation apparently to avoid possible removal by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) in a reference.

In his resignation addres­sed to the president of Pak­istan, Justice Khan questioned the manner in which the council conducted proceedings against him, saying he had not been provided sufficient time to defend his case in violation of principles of natural justice.

He said the council proceeded in an unfair, arbitrary and summary manner in violation of the doctrine of fair trial and due process as enshrined in the Constitution.

Read: SJC to hear complaint of misconduct against LHC judge

“The Honourable Sup­reme Judicial Council has not provided me sufficient time to procure affidavits, materials and witnesses, some of whom had to come from abroad and gave only three working days to produce my entire evidence in January 2019, which shows bias and predisposition of their mind which is against all principles of natural justice and free and fair opportunity to defend myself, as it has caused prejudice to me by filing incomplete affidavits of my defence witnesses with limited information that could be gathered within deadline of three days,” the judge said in the resignation.

He said the council recorded the statement of former attorney general Ashtar Ausaf Ali in his and his counsel’s absence, which amounted to misconduct, miscarriage of justice and tampering with the record of the council.

Rejecting the allegations of money laundering against him, Justice Khan in his defence said no tax was ever evaded by him. He further said that there was no requirement of disclosure of foreign properties to Pakistan tax authorities and the properties in Orlando, Florida were mortgaged before his elevation as LHC judge and through a gift deed dated Feb 3, 2010, those properties were gifted to his brother Mohammad Ahmad Irfan Khan.

He said the SJC had rejected a request by former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to constitute a commission for recording his evidence in the reference. The council had also rejected a request of Justice Khan to hold open proceedings of the reference.

Justice Khan was facing a reference after his name surfaced in a 2016 list famously known as “Panama Leaks” disclosing Pakistani citizens having offshore properties.

Read: Bar supports boycott of judge named in Panama papers

He was also accused of indulging in money laundering and was issued a show-cause notice by the SJC in 2017 on a reference filed by former bureaucrat Nazar Mohammad Chohan.

Justice Khan in the resignation said Mr Chohan, as per his own blog, had been declared as an enemy of the state by the Pakistan security agencies and absconded to the United States.

Justice Khan had taken oath as additional judge of the LHC on Feb 20, 2010, and was due to retire on June 22, 2020, on attaining the age of superannuation (62 years). He stood fifth on the seniority list of LHC judges and with his resignation number of judges lowered to 46 against the sanctioned strength of 60.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2019