ISLAMABAD: In a surprise move and just a day before the Supreme Judi­cial Council’s (SJC) schedu­led proceedings in the matter, Justice Sayyed Maz­ahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, who was facing complaints of mis­conduct, tendered his re­signation as a judge of the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The resignation came a day after a three-judge SC bench rejected a request to stay the Jan 11 SJC proceedings against him.

“I feel relieved,” Justice Naqvi told Dawn when approa­c­­h­ed to confirm reports that he had resi­gned.

Hailing from Gujran­wala, Justice Naqvi was elevated to the Supreme Court on March 16, 2020.

“It is a hard reality that I was totally denied the rig­ht of audience,” Justice Naq­vi regretted. He poin­ted out that he had moved 24 applications, but not a single one had been decided.

“The chairman and other judges were reluctant in providing me an opportunity of hearing except one,” he claimed, adding: “Rest had joined consolidated design. There was no fun (sic) to expect any administration of justice,” he regretted.

“In the circumstances which are a matter of public knowledge and to some extent public record, it is no longer possible for me to continue to serve as a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” the judge said in his resignation letter to President Dr Arif Alvi, a copy of which was also sent to the SC’s registrar.

“Consideration of due process also compels so. I, therefore, effective today resign as a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” the letter said, adding it was an honour to be appointed and to serve as judge first of the Lahore High Court and then as the Supreme Court.

Typographical error

 A copy of Justice Naqvi’s resignation letter. — provided by Haseeb Bhatti
A copy of Justice Naqvi’s resignation letter. — provided by Haseeb Bhatti

Since the date in the resignation letter was mistakenly written as Jan 10, 2023, the personal secretary to the judge later issued a corrigendum to the secretary to the President, stating: “Today ie Jan 10, 2024, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, judge Supreme Court of Pakistan, has tendered his resignation from the office of judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan, and the resignation letter has been sent to the President.

“However inadvertently the date of the letter was written as 10th of Jan, 2023 instead of Jan 10, 2024,” the corrigendum said, adding the judge has desired that being a typographic mistake, the same may be corrected and recognised as Jan 10, 2024, and the quarters concerned may be informed accordingly.

The resignation instantly triggered a debate as to what will become of the reference pending before the SJC and whether after the resignation the judge would continue to enjoy perks and privileges like pension and other benefits.

Perks, privileges

When the question was put to a senior counsel, he explained that after resignation judges are entitled to enjoy all the perks and privileges, including pension. Likewise, the reference after the resignation becomes infructuous and ideally the proceedings by the SJC should come to an end, the counsel said, seeking anonymity.

But former Supreme Court Bar Association president Muhammad Akram Sheikh was of the view that the resignation cannot stop the SJC from continuing its inquiry into the judge’s alleged misconduct and restoration of the wealth allegedly amassed by him to the public exchequer.

“In my view… Justice Naqvi cannot claim pension or any ancillary benefits from the high office he has vacated after finding no hope of survival with dignity,” Mr Sheikh alleged.

Therefore, he said, he expects the SJC would not discontinue the inquiry and allow the judge an honourable acquittal from the charges levelled against him as the same will open floodgates of corrupt practices and misconduct in the superior judiciary.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2024

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