ISLAMABAD: The PML-N has filed a reference against Supreme Court Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi after his name surfaced in connection with an alleged audio leak.
Lawyers associated with the party filed the reference before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) — the body tasked with hearing and deciding complaints against superior court judges.
The reference, filed under Article 209 of the Constitution, stated that the oath of a superior court judge as prescribed by the Constitution required strict adherence to a code of conduct, any departure from which “may invite misconduct proceeding.”
The reference alleged that Justice Naqvi “deviated from this code” when he refused bail to an accused but granted one when the accused changed his lawyer.
In 2012, Justice Naqvi — who was then a judge in the Lahore High Court — denied bail to Nazir Ahmad who was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder. Later, the accused changed his lawyer and filed a fresh petition which was entertained by the judge and he was released on bail.
The case reached the Supreme Court and in Jan 2014, the court took strong exception to the judge’s conduct and described it as “colourable exercise of jurisdiction”. Later, a reference was initiated in the SJC against Justice Naqvi on misconduct charges.
The PML-N’s reference said if a judge is habitual in defiance, they must be proceeded against, not least to ensure that other judges do not emulate them.
“Recently, it has transpired from certain audio leaks which are now viral on social media that the aforesaid [h]onorable judge appears to be passing order pursuant to being approached by the interesting parties which in itself is a gross violation of his code of conduct.”
The reference said Justice Naqvi “misused authority as a judge of apex court in the most obvious of manners.”
The complainant requested the SJC to initiate proceedings against Justice Naqvi.
The PML-N also reproduced the leaked audio, along with the complaint.
It further sought permission to submit additional evidence at an “appropriate time.”
This is the second reference against Justice Naqvi since the audio tape was leaked.
Earlier on Feb 23, a lawyer Mian Dawood filed a reference alleging that the judge used his position to secure financial gains from Zahid Rafique — the owner of Future Holdings — and facilitated his sons and a daughter studying abroad.
It added that according to “reliable sources” Justice Naqvi has “managed to legalise his black income through the sale of the property.”
“He sold House No. 375 DHA Phase-2 Gujranwala Cantt in 2021 for Rs60 million, however, he purchased it for Rs4.7 million only. Additionally, there are reports that he revised his returns at least three times in 2021 to clean the mess and changed the income statements. initially, he showed the worth of the Gulberg 3 plot as Rs60 million which he bought after selling the house of Gujranwala, later he changed its value to Rs7.2 million,” the complaint noted.
The audio leak
On Feb 16, three audio clips, featuring former Punjab chief minister Pervez Elahi were leaked on social media.
In one of the clips, Mr Elahi was purportedly heard talking to the judge before whose bench he wanted a corruption case to be fixed. In another clip, his voice could be heard telling the judge that he was coming to meet him. The man on the other side tried to convince him that it would not be appropriate, but former Punjab chief minister Elahi insisted he was close by and would be coming without protocol and that he would pay salaam and leave.
Published in Dawn, EOS, March 5th, 2023