ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has decided to issue a show-cause notice to Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi over complaints of alleged misconduct and assets beyond means.
In a 3-2 decision, the council, which met on Friday, directed the judge to submit a reply within two weeks.
SJC is a constitutional body that probes allegations of misconduct against the judges of Supreme and high courts. It comprises the chief justice, two senior-most SC judges and two senior-most high courts’ chief justices.
Currently, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa; Supreme Court justices Sardar Tariq Masood and Ijazul Ahsan; and top judges of Lahore and Balochistan High Courts Mohammad Ameer Bhatti and Naeem Akhtar Afghan, respectively, are SJC members.
CJP Isa, Justice Masood and CJ Afghan voted to issue the notice, while Justice Ahsan and CJ Bhatti requested more time to consider the complaints.
After the decision, the copies of 10 complaints were sent to Justice Naqvi for furnishing a reply by Nov 10.
Unlike past practices, the SJC decided to announce the decision of its proceedings” in the interest of transparency and to stem speculations.
The council’s meeting, the first in over two years, was called by CJP Isa to consider complaints against three Supreme Court judges and discuss other matters. The last SJC meeting took place on July 12, 2021, when Justice Gulzar Ahmed was the CJP.
On Friday, the council took up 29 complaints, of which 19 were dismissed.
Since Justice Ahsan and Justice Masood were also accused, they left the meeting when complaints against them were taken up. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, the next senior-most judge after the two, replaced them.
The council dismissed the complaint against Justice Ahsan and warned lawyers who had filed “frivolous complaints” against the judge.
On the complaint against Justice Masood, the council found that the requisite material was not attached with it. Therefore, the complainant, Amna Malik, was ordered to produce material supporting her complaint.
After the SJC secretary receives the documents, they will be provided to Justice Masood to respond.
The council also summoned Ms Malik to be present in the next meeting when the judge presents his defence. The complainant had requested that since she had made the complaint public, the council should take it up and determine its veracity.
According to Section 14 of the Supreme Judicial Council Procedure of Enquiry, 2005, the council can take action against the complainant if it finds the evidence false or concludes the complaint was filed to malign a judge or scandalise the court.
Once the complaint’s merit is ascertained, the attorney general for Pakistan or, in his absence, any senior counsel recommended by him will conduct the reference as prosecutor, according to Rule 10 of the Supreme Judicial Council Procedure of Enquiry 2005,
Separate SJC secretariat
The council also deliberated upon setting up a secretariat with a full-time secretary and requisite staff for the SJC since it was a constitutional body.
The meeting decided that the Supreme Court registrar, who also serves as acting SJC secretary, would submit a working paper on the matter to the CJP.
The chief justice may amend or substitute the recommendations and circulate them among SJC members for consideration.
The complaints against Justice Naqvi were instituted by a Lahore-based lawyer and social media influencer Advocate Mian Dawood, PML-N Lawyers Forum, Pakistan Bar Council, a citizen named Advocate Ghulam Murtaza Khan as well as the Sindh Bar Council.
Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2023