ISLAMABAD: By a majority of four to one, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Wednesday issued a show-cause notice afresh to a sitting Supreme Court judge, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, with a direction to come up with his defence by filing a reply within a fortnight.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, the SJC also dispatched the complete record of allegations and evidence mentioned in the complaints against Justice Naqvi to furnish his reply within a fortnight. The SJC is a constitutional body that probes allegations of misconduct against the superior court judges.

The decision to issue the show-cause notice was taken by the CJP, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Chief Justice Lahore High Court Muhammad Ameer Bhatti and Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Naeem Akhtar Afghan, though Justice Ijazul Ahsan dissented.

Earlier on Oct 27, the SJC issued a show-cause notice by a majority of three to two with a direction to respond to the same by filing a reply.

Justice Naqvi, in his objections to the first show-cause notice, stated that it failed to specify the actual allegations in the complaints that should fall within the category of misconduct.

Justice Naqvi was facing complaints instituted by a Lahore-based lawyer and social media influencer Advocate Mian Dawood, PML-N Lawyers’ Forum, the top regulatory body of lawyers namely the Pakis­tan Bar Council (PBC) and a private citizen Advocate Ghulam Murtaza Khan, as well as the Sindh Bar Council (SBC).

On Tuesday, the SJC closed its proceedings for Wedne­s­day to deliberate on whether the allegations levelled thr­ough private complaints against the judge have eno­ugh substance to proceed further or should be simply rejected.

Then the SJC explained to the complainants that in case it arrived at a conclusion that the allegations against the judge were substantial and of a serious nature, it will require an appropriate response from the judge after issuing formal show-cause notice to him.

During Tuesday’s proceedings the complainants adv­ance arguments and furnished additional documents to establish the allegations they had levelled in their res­pective complaints of misconduct against Justice Naqvi.

Earlier, in his objections, Justice Naqvi had regretted that from the record, it was evident that the manner in which the proceedings had been initiated against him by issuing the show-cause was repugnant to and inconsistent with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Further, the issuance of the press release on Oct 27, 2023, without his prior consent not only violates his fundamental rights but also subjected him to a media trial, maligns and ridicules him in the public eye.

The objection had also highlighted that the show-cause notice does not identify whether he was being called upon to answer the common allegations, or that he was supposed to respond them jointly, or to respond to each and every allegation in each complaint.

Justice Naqvi had stated that by not making documents available to him, not only had denied a fair trial and equal protection of law but such conduct raises a serious question on the propriety and transparency of the proceedings of the SJC.

It said the proceedings against the judge have been conducted in a manner which was ex facie discriminatory and these, therefore, violate Article 25 of the Constitution.

The objection also termed the complaints as frivolous and politically motivated and requested for its dismissal.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2023

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