ISLAMABAD: Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, a judge of the Supreme Court, on Monday forwarded to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa his opinion on a number of complaints moved against Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, another judge of the apex court.
In May, former CJP Umar Ata Bandial had sought the opinion of Justice Sardar Tariq Masood on complaints against Justice Naqvi. An informed source told Dawn that opinions on 10 of the complaints had been sent to Justice Isa.
It was now up to the CJP to proceed ahead with the matter by calling a meeting of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), or drop the case.
The SJC, headed by the CJP, is a constitutional body which probes allegations of misconduct against superior court judges. Justice Masood is also a part of the five-member SJC.
PBC, SBC and PML-N Lawyers’ Forum among complainants against the judge
The complaints submitted to the SJC allege that Justice Naqvi had violated the Code of Conduct for judges.
Justice Masood had recommended rejection of similar complaints against former CJPs Umar Ata Bandial and Mian Saqib Nisar, as well as Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Ayesha Malik, on the basis of judicial orders.
Justice Masood said he had concluded after thorough investigations that the complaints were not maintainable since they were based on judicial orders already upheld by the Supreme Court.
When the Supreme Judicial Council receives a complaint or piece of information, it always refers the matter to a member before initiating formal proceedings to ascertain whether it was a fit case to go ahead or not.
Under Section 7 of the SJC Procedure of Inquiry Rules 2005, “once any information in respect of inquiry into the conduct of a judge is received by any member of the council, it is presented to the chairman of the council, who then refers the same to any member to look into the said information, and to express his opinion in relation to the sufficiency or otherwise of the information;
(b) if the council is satisfied that the information prima facie discloses sufficient material for an inquiry, it shall proceed to consider the same“.
According to the rules, a member to whom the chairman refers the matter examines it and ascertains whether the information discloses specific particulars of misconduct or not.
Referring to Justice Naqvi, the source said already 10 complaints had been filed against the judge.
The most notable of these was brought by Mian Dawood, a Lahore-based lawyer and social media influencer, the PML-N Lawyers Forum, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the Sindh Bar Council (SBC) and Advocate Ghulam Murtaza Khan.
The SBC cited a 2014 judgement in which a Supreme Court bench had made certain observations about the conduct of Justice Naqvi when he was a judge of the Lahore High Court.
The bench consisted of Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry.
Conviction of Gen Musharraf
The most high-profile judgement authored by the respondent judge before his elevation to the Supreme Court was his verdict in the case of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf versus Federation of Pakistan.
The complaint alleged that Justice Naqvi had unlawfully assumed jurisdiction over the Special Tribunal in Islamabad, which convicted and sentenced Gen Musharraf to death for high treason.
He set aside the sentence “in violation of orders” by the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court, according to the complaint.
“The judgement shows that Justice Naqvi violated clauses II, III, IX, X and XI of the Code of Conduct,” the complaint alleged.
Audio recordings of conversations between the respondent judge and certain lawyers, as well as former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi, have been leaked and circulated on social media, and reproduced in several newspapers, the complaint alleged.
The complaints accused Justice Naqvi of legalising his income through the sale of properties or by revising his 2021 tax returns a number of times in an attempt to justify his income.
Justice Naqvi, through a letter to former CJP Justice Umar Ata Bandial, had expressed apprehensions that he might not get justice or might face discrimination in the matter. He also expressed a suspicion that the delay in arriving at an opinion on complaints by a member of the SJC was deliberate.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2023