ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Judicial Council (SJC) — a body empowered to hear cases of misconduct against judges — was told on Thursday that a private developer, Lahore Smart City (Pvt) Ltd, issued one of the two banker cheques of Rs50 million each for buying a residential plot in favour of a former Supreme Court judge, Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.

Chaudhry Mohammad Shahbaz, the previous owner of the land who sold the property to the former judge for over Rs130m, also informed the SJC that he had pointed out to the former judge about the payment by the developer but was told that it was an internal matter with the company and that he should only be interested with the payment of the land.

The SJC proceedings, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, was informed that the sale agreement for the 100 Sant Jones Park property — measuring about 1,984 square yards — was executed on June 28, 2022, and included payments through two Rs50m banker cheques and Rs30m in cash, involving Mr Shahbaz, his son, and Justice Naqvi.

Despite Justice Naqvi’s resignation on Jan 10, the SJC is pressing forward with the proceedings against him, though it awaits the outcome of an intra-court appeal by the federal government challenging a Supreme Court judgement (Afiya Shehrbano Zia) related to the jurisdiction over retired or resigned judges.

Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan acted as the prosecutor, whereas the SJC recorded testimonies of seven witnesses during the public hearing who were never cross-examined since the paper of attorney of senior counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed was revoked by his client judge.

The counsel had appeared before the council arguing that propriety demanded that he should be present but sought permission to leave as his attorney had been cancelled by the former judge.

On the AGP’s request, the council summoned the manager of Askari Bank’s Ghalib Road, Lahore, branch along with the original record with regard to the issuance of a banker cheque in favour of Mr Shahbaz.

The CEO of the Lahore Smart City or his representative was also asked to appear before the SJC.

Mr Shahbaz conceded that he misstated before the court civil court where he filed a suit on Feb 12, 2021, seeking a declaration that he and his son, Hussain Shahbaz Warsi, were the only legal heirs of the property of his deceased wife, Bismah Warsi, but concealing the identity of two more minor sons who were also co-owners of the land. He also admitted that making false statements amounted to perjury, adding that he was a high court lawyer with 10 years of experience.

About the two witnesses in the declaration suit, Mr Shahbaz admitted that both resided at different places far away from his residence. At this, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood observed that such witnesses were usually available at the premises of district courts.

He conceded that he had not applied for guardianship in relation to the minor children, adding that even his son, Hussain Shahbaz, was a minor at the time when the suit for declaration was filed.

He explained that he wanted to obtain permission from the guardian court before filing the suit. However, Sayyed Tassaduq Naqvi, the son of Justice Naqvi, suggested that after June 30, 2022, the rate of taxes and duties on transactions would go up, and therefore he should first get the sales deed registered and that permission from the guardian judge could be secured later if required.

Earlier, the director of Military Estate Office’s (MEO) Lahore circle, Abdul Ghaffar, brought the property’s record and said the sale transaction was put in the MEO record on July 1, 2022, for Rs106.8m.

Two different approved evaluators told the court that the property’s worth at the time of purchase in 2022 was Rs270m, which has now swelled to Rs377m.

The Nadra’s Lahore regional office DG also furnished relevant documents concerning the family registration certificate.

The SJC secretary also deposed her witness before the council regarding her letter about seeking information from the court concerned. The council is set to resume the hearing today (Friday).

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Reforming militants
24 Jul, 2024

Reforming militants

Such initiatives have been tried before, in Swat for instance, at centres run by the military as well as NGOs.
IPP debate
24 Jul, 2024

IPP debate

A FIERCE debate blaming the exorbitant electricity prices on expensive power purchase agreements with IPPs has been...
Political vendettas
24 Jul, 2024

Political vendettas

IT seems that the PML-N and PPP need to be reminded again that they are doing themselves a considerable disservice ...
Security concerns
23 Jul, 2024

Security concerns

All stakeholders want what is best for the country and its people; their differing approaches shouldn’t be viewed with such suspicion all the time.
Frankfurt vandalism
23 Jul, 2024

Frankfurt vandalism

THE state needs to seek serious answers from the German authorities regarding the July 20 mob attack targeting...
Stressed cotton economy
23 Jul, 2024

Stressed cotton economy

DECREASING cotton production should be a worry for the government because of its socioeconomic implications. Early...