ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), a constitutional body empowered to hear misconduct cases against judges, convened on Tuesday to evaluate allegations against a sitting Supreme Court judge and determine whether the charges hold enough merit to warrant a formal inquiry.

The SJC explained to the complainants that if it finds the allegations significant, it will issue a formal show-cause notice to the judge — Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi — requiring his response.

The council’s decision, expected as soon as Wednesday (today), hinges on the strength of the evidence presented against Justice Naqvi, who was also present during Tuesday’s proceedings and represented by senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmad.

On Monday, Mr Ahmad advanced preliminary arguments before the SJC, as Justice Naqvi challenged the Oct 28 show-cause notice served on him by the council, arguing that the proceedings were coram non judice, i.e. before a court that lacks the authority to hear and decide the case.

Council may serve notice on Justice Mazahar Naqvi today if it finds charges to be significant

The SJC is headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and also comprises Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan of the Supreme Court, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Mohammad Ameer Bhatti, and Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

During Tuesday’s proceedings, the SJC requested substantial evidence from the complainants to corraborate the accusations of misconduct and explain why the judge should be removed from the top court.

In response, Hassan Raza Pasha presented his case on behalf of the Pakistan Bar Council, whereas Mian Dawood, a Lahore-based lawyer, reiterated several allegations against the judge, a source said.

The audio leaks containing an alleged conversation between the judge and former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi also came under discussion. One complainant accused the judge of openly flaunting his relationship with the PTI and its leaders and even using his influence to turn PTI-related cases in their favour.

The complainants also levelled allegations of amassing properties beyond known sources of income and requested the SJC to order the judge to furnish a money trail.

They further alleged that the judge used his position to facilitate his sons and a daughter studying abroad and received financial gains from Zahid Rafique, the owner of Future Holdings.

They claimed that the judge sold House No. 375 in DHA Phase-2, Gujranwala Cantt, in 2021 for Rs60 million after purchasing it for only Rs4.7m.

The judge also allegedly revised his returns at least three times in 2021 and changed income statements. Moreover, in his returns for 2021, the judge did not mention Allied Plaza (located at Civil Lines Gujranwala) in his returns, even though he owned the property.

Meanwhile, Amna Malik, whose complaint against Justice Sardar Tariq Masood was rejected on Monday, conceded during the question-answer session that her husband, Abdullah Malik, was a junior associate of Advocate M. Azhar Siddique.

Mr Siddique was provided with a copy of the complaint and he later tweeted about the filing of the complaint before the SJC. However, she could not answer who drafted the complaint against Justice Masood.

Ms Malik also conceded that she was satisfied with the reply of Justice Masood in response to her complaint since he had attached all documents. However, she refused to answer how she obtained the copy of the FBR’s record mentioned in her complaint.

She also conceded that neither she nor her husband were taxpayers, and was unable to specify under which law her organisation — the Civil Society Network Pakistan, of which she is the president — was registered. She was also unaware of how many members were working in the organisation; she even failed to name a single member of the organisation.

On Monday, the SJC had rejected the complaint after finding it unreliable and untrustworthy and observed that Ms Malik intentionally withheld information and did not tell the truth while answering several questions.

Published in Dawn, November 22th, 2023

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