President Alvi accepts resignation of SC’s Justice Naqvi

Published January 11, 2024
Former SC Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. — File photo/SC website
Former SC Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. — File photo/SC website

President Dr Arif Alvi on Thursday accepted the resignation of Supreme Court’s Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, a statement from his office said.

The development came a day after the judge, who was facing complaints of mis­conduct, tendered his resignation due to “circumstances which are a matter of public knowledge and to some extent public record”.

According to a press release issued by the President House today, Dr Alvi accepted Justice Naqvi’s resignation “on the advice of the prime minister under Article 179 (retiring age) of the Constitution”.

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

Justice Naqvi’s resignation letter to the president, which was incorrectly dated January 10, 2023, had stated: “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.”

Later, his personal secretary had issued a corrigendum, saying that the date may be corrected and recognised as Jan 10, 2024, and the quarters concerned may be informed accordingly.

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

Naqvi was facing a Supreme Judicial Council inquiry over allegations of misconduct, a show-cause notice for which was issued in October last year. On Tuesday, the apex court had rejected his request to stay the proceedings.

In a letter penned to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and all top court judges in December, he had stated that the treatment meted out to him by the SJC was “nothing short of disgraceful”.

SJC issues notices to Justice Naqvi and counsel

Meanwhile, the SJC issued notices to the judge and his counsel.

The SJC resumed hearing the complaints against Justice Naqvi with the CJP in the chair. Justices Sardar Tariq Masood, Amir Hussain Bhatti, and Naeem Akhtar Afghan took part in the session but Justice Ijazul Ahsan did not attend the meeting.

CJP Isa remarked during today’s proceedings that Justice Naqvi could have tendered his resignation under pressure and the petitions against him might have been wrong.

“If the judge resigns under pressure, the reputation of the institution will be damaged.”

He added that the process of removing a judge from office had ended and the Supreme Court had an unusual situation in front of it considering Justice Naqvi’s resignation was a personal decision.

The CJP directed the Attorney General for Pakistan Masoor Usman Awan to read out Justice Naqvi’s resignation. “What does Article 179 of the Constitution say about resignation?” he asked. “Read Article 209 in the context of the resignation also.”

No lawyer from Justice Naqvi’s side was present in the session. After a short break in the session, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah also took part due to Justice Ahsan’s absence.

As the hearing continued, the AGP contended before the court that no action could be taken against a judge according to the rules if he tenders his resignation.

“The question before the council is if the resignation will affect the proceedings,” Awan said, highlighting the Supreme Court’s decision by a two-member bench in June which stated that proceedings can also not be carried out against a judge who retires.

He then gave a detailed account of former CJP Saqib Nisar’s matter in the past.

After hearing Awan, CJ Isa remarked that proceedings against Nisar were not initiated as compared to Justice Naqvi’s case. “This doesn’t mean that the SJC cannot give its opinion on the matter.”

After the AGP’s arguments concluded, the SJC issued notices to Justice (retd) Naqvi and his counsel Khawaja Harris and adjourned the session for 11:30am on Friday.

Proceedings against Justice Naqvi

Early last year, references were filed before the SJC against Justice Naqvi after his name surfaced in connection with an alleged audio leak.

In October last year, the SJC had issued a show-cause notice to Justice Naqvi in connection with 10 complaints lodged against him and directed the judge to submit a reply within two weeks.

Headed by CJP Isa, the SJC comprises Justice Tariq Masood, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Lahore High Court Chief Justice (CJ) Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, and Balochistan High Court CJ Naeem Akhtar.

In a preliminary reply submitted in November, Justice Naqvi had cited “serious prejudice” against him and said CJP Isa, Justice Masood and CJ Akhtar should recuse themselves and not hear the matter.

On Nov 20, Justice Naqvi contested the SJC proceedings against him and also challenged the show-cause notice issued to him by the council, stating the initiation of proceedings was coram non-judice and without lawful authority.

Subsequently, the SJC had issued a fresh show-cause notice to Justice Naqvi on Nov 22, with a direction to come up with his defence by filing a reply within a fortnight.

On December 4, Justice Naqvi had again approached the apex court and expressed his intent to pursue the constitutional petition he had moved earlier seeking to quash the revised show-cause notice issued by the SJC.

Two days later, Justice Naqvi had invited the attention of the SC committee comprising three senior-most judges to the silence over his petitions challenging the issuance of the show-cause notice (SCN) despite the lapse of time as stipulated in the Supreme Court (Practice & Procedure) Act, 2023.

Justice Naqvi had also written a separate letter to the SJC secretary, asking the latter to furnish a number of documents without which, the judge said, he would not be in a position to prepare his reply to the show-cause notice within time.

On December 15, the SJC, in an open hearing, had given two weeks to the top court judge to respond to the misconduct allegations and directed him to submit a reply to the show-cause notice by January 1.

Subsequently, the judge had filed a detailed response to the show-cause notice, saying the allegations against him “absolutely and maliciously false”, giving a detailed response to each of the 10 allegations made against him.

In the detailed response, he had said the SJC was not empowered to entertain any complaint against a judge and was only entitled to receiving “information”.

On January 8, Justice Naqvi had withdrawn his objection to the three-judge bench hearing his plea challenging the issuance of a show-cause notice to him.

On Tuesday, the apex court rejected a request to stay Jan 11 SJC proceedings against the judge, as Justice Ahsan described the council’s proceedings against his colleague “contrary to the established norms”.

Justice Ahsan — part of the five-member SJC — who had refused to join other members of the council on Nov 22, 2023, in the issuance of the show-cause notice to Justice Naqvi, regretted the hasty proceedings.

In his letter to the SJC members, Justice Ahsan regretted that debate and discussion have been non-existent and have not been permitted during the ongoing council proceedings. “Thus Nov 22, 2023 proceedings when the second show-cause notice was issued against Justice Naqvi were completely devoid of any discussion or deliberation whatsoever,” he said.

“This manner of proceedings has cast an unwelcome doubt over the whole process, therefore he disagreed with the process followed and the manner in which the proceedings were being conducted,” Justice Ahsan said.

Referring to the allegations in the complaint against the judge, the letter regretted these were utterly without merit or substance, both in law and even on a prima facie appraisal of the facts.



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