Reference filed in SJC against CJP, three SC judges

Published April 11, 2023
From left to right: Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Naqvi and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
From left to right: Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Naqvi and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

ISLAMABAD: Sardar Salman Ahmad Dogar, a lawyer, moved a reference on Monday before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against the chief justice of Pakistan and three other judges of the Supreme Court.

The complaint alleged judicial misconduct on the part of Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, and Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Naqvi. The complainant based his reference on alleged violation of the Code of Conduct for judges of the superior judiciary issued by the SJC on Sept 2, 2009.

The complainant alleged that the four judges were in violation of Articles III, IV, V, VI and IX of the code of conduct. These relate to keeping a judge’s conduct on all occasions, official and private, free from impropriety; enshrining the rule against bias and conflict of interest, either direct or indirect; ensuring that justice is not only done, but is also seen to be done; counselling against engaging in public controversy, least of all on a political question; employing the influence of a judge’s position to gain undue advantage, whether immediate or future, and maintenance of harmony within his own court, as well as among all courts and for integrity of the institution of justice.

The complainant alleged that the CJP was engaged in “arbitrary elevation” of judges to the Supreme Court in violation of the seniority principle.

He proposed an alternative composition of SJC to investigate this judicial reference as, according to him, no judge can be part of a bench which is hearing a reference against himself. The complainant has sought removal of the four judges from their offices by the president after an inquiry by the SJC.

The inquiry should be made on grounds of alleged misconduct, as purported by the complainant. Since the Supreme Judicial Council is the only forum that can inquire into the conduct of judges of the superior judiciary, its jurisdiction has been invoked in this case.

Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2023

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