ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has asked a Lahore-based complainant to furnish an affidavit in support of the allegations he levelled against a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.

The SC registrar, who also happens to be the SJC secretary, has asked the complainant, Advocate Mian Dawood, through a letter to furnish his affidavit as per requirement of Section 5(3) of the SJC Procedure of Enquiry Rules, 2005.

According to Section 5(3) of the rules, a person who provides information about alleged misconduct of a judge through a complaint is req­ui­red to identify himself properly.

Section 5 also explains that any citizen may bring information to the notice of the SJC, its secretary or member about the alleged incapacity or misconduct of a judge. However, such allegations may be supported by material that is sufficient in SJC’s opinion to commence an enquiry.

Lahore-based lawyer has demanded probe into SC judge’s assets

In all, four complaints have been filed before the SJC against Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi who is ninth on SC’s seniority list. Besides the Lahore-based lawyer and social media influencer Advo­cate Dawood, complaints have been filed against the judge by the PML-N Lawyers’ Forum, the Pakistan Bar Council and an individual Advocate Ghulam Murtaza Khan, requiring thorough proceedings to ascertain the veracity of the allegations against the respondent judge so that a final finding may be given.

Significant changes were made to Article 209 of the Constitution that deals with the SJC, which could earlier process only the complaints referred to it by the president before the 17th Amendment. The SJC was empowered through the amendment to the article to inquire on its own, in addition to the presidential reference, into the conduct or capacity of the judge of a superior court. Subsequently, former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry constituted a committee to make the forum more effective. It was tasked with the preparation of draft rules/procedures for initiating action and conducting investigation. The committee in its meeting held on Sept 24, 2005 prepared a draft of SJC procedure of enquiry, which was then approved by the council and later duly notified and gazetted.

Thus, the council became fully fun­­c­tional and started entertaining complaints. Once a piece of information against the conduct of a judge is received by a council member, it is pre­sented to the chief justice who heads SJC as its chairman. The chief justice will then refer the matter to any of the five council members to look into the information and express his opinion.

The member will examine and asc­e­rtain if the information so rece­ived discloses specific particulars of misconduct, and provides factual de­t­ails necessary to form prima facie opinion in respect of the guilt of the judge. If the member forms an opinion that the information does reveal sufficient material to commence an enqu­iry, he will inform the council accordingly and the information will be placed before the council. If the member arrives at the conclusion that the information is false, frivolous, concocted or untrue, he shall inform the council accordingly and may recommend action against the complainant.

In his complaint, Mr Dawood had sought an inquiry into the assets of the judge. The complainant also wrote a letter to CJP on March 6 to fix his complaint before the SJC at the earliest so that a transparent inq­u­iry be conducted. The complainant also requested the CJP to ensure that the judge should not be made part of any bench or hear any case till the conclusion of the SJC proceedings.

The complainant also forwarded the copies of the complaint to SJC members Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh and Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan.

Mr Dawood, in his complaint, regretted that people’s confidence in the top judiciary was being eroded by making Justice Naqvi a member of different benches as the litigants may doubt court decisions being issued by him.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2023

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