Justice Ijazul Ahsan’s participation in SJC proceedings against Justice Naqvi challenged in SC

Published December 6, 2023
The photo shows SC’s Justice Ijazul Ahsan. — photo courtesy SC website
The photo shows SC’s Justice Ijazul Ahsan. — photo courtesy SC website

Lahore-based lawyer Mian Dawood on Wednesday approached the apex court challenging Justice Ijazul Ahsan’s participation in the Supreme Judicial Council proceedings against Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.

The SJC is seized with a set of complaints against Justice Naqvi pertaining to alleged misconduct. Last month, it had issued a show-cause notice afresh to the judge with a direction to come up with his defence by filing a reply within a fortnight.

The decision was taken by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Chief Justice Lahore High Court Muhammad Ameer Bhatti and Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Naeem Akhtar Afghan, while Justice Ahsan had dissented.

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

For his part, Justice Naqvi has expressed his intent to pursue his petition against the Supreme Judicial Council’s notice before the top court.

A day earlier, Mian Dawood, who is also one of the complainants against Justice Naqvi, moved an application before the SJC with a request that Justice Ahsan should recuse himself since the judge differed on the issuance of the show-cause notices.

Today, he filed a similar petition in the top court and named the Federation of Pakistan and SJC as respondents.

“The instant petition merits urgent attention of the court as it hinges upon safeguarding and holding the canons of natural justice, administration of justice and the independence of judiciary as well as the appearance of independence of judiciary, internally and externally,” it stated.

The application, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, highlighted the question: “Whether participation of Justice Ijazul Ahsan in the proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council violates Articles 9 and 10-A of the Constitution of Pakistan?”

Dawood stated in the petition that there was no cavil to the principle that an impartial judge was “fundamental desideratum” to the right to fair trial and due process of law. He highlighted that a fair justice system demanded and sustained upon the existence of an impartial judge.

“The participation of honourable Justice Ijazul Ahsan in the proceedings before respondent 2 [SJC] contributes to and raises grave concerns vis-à-vis the appearance of impartiality,” the plea stated, adding that the SJC was empowered to ensure the accountability of judges of both high court and the apex court.

“Having judges with unblemished financial record with the highest standards of ethical and conduct is sine qua non to the access to justice and as such guaranteed under Article 9 of the Constitution,” it said.

Therefore, the application continued, the SJC proceedings should be beyond “any suspicion or doubt as to the bias and/or conflict of interest of any of its members”.

It further stated that members of the SJC were held to the highest standards of impartiality which required them to dispel even the remotest impressions of personal affiliation, beliefs, political ideologies and external pressure when deciding and hearing cases.

The petition subsequently prayed that the SC declares that “Justice Ahsan’s participation in the SJC proceedings is in violation with Article 9 (security of a person) and 10-A (right to fair trial) of the Constitution”.

It further pleaded that the court declare that the judge next most senior replaces Justice Ahsan as members of the SJC for the purpose of deciding the complaints against Justice Naqvi.

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