ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) proceedings against former justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi pick up pace, the chief justice has hinted at taking up pending complaints against other judges as well.

CJP Qazi Faez Isa, who heads the SJC, said on Friday that the council will hold an internal meeting to go through the entire list of complaints against different judges and, if necessary, issue a press release.

The chief justice made similar rema­rks while speaking at a workshop on Jan 20, where he revealed that he had sought opinions on complaints against 100 superior court judges pending before SJC.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the SJC recorded four more witness testimonies during the hearing of misconduct allegations against ex-judge Naqvi.

One of the witnesses, Mohammad Saf­dar Khan, a businessman and property dealer, stated that he had purchased a house measuring two kanals and four marlas in Lahore’s Gulberg area from the former judge for Rs130 million, but the amount mentioned in the sale deed — Rs49.6m — was determined by the district collector.

CJP hints at taking up more complaints against judges; ex-justice calls council’s actions ‘unconstitutional’

Of the Rs130m, he paid Rs50m through a banker’s cheque on behalf of Lahore Smart City (Pvt) Ltd in favour of Chaudhry Mohammad Shahbaz, who previously owned the Gulberg property — 100 Sant Jones Park.

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The property is the subject of one of the ten complaints against the former judge pending before the SJC.

Mr Khan testified that another pay order of Rs50m was paid directly to the former judge, while Rs30m was paid in cash, the receipt of which was given by the judge’s son, Sayyed Murtaza Naqvi.

When asked why he issued the banker’s cheque on behalf of Lahore Smart City, Mr Khan said the property developer owed him the money for selling approximately 600 kanals of land in Fateh Jang, adjacent to Islamabad.

The witness added he had been doing business with Smart City for the past 20 years, and the company owed him Rs50 million.

On a query, he told the council that he had orally asked the property developer to make out the banker’s cheque in the name of Mr Shahbaz.

When asked how he became acquainted with the judge, Mr Khan said he had known Mr Naqvi for the past six to seven years.

The Gulberg property was earlier owned by Varda Naqvi — the wife of caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi — and sold to the former judge on June 30, 2021, for Rs72m and resold to Mr Khan in Dec 2021 for Rs130m.

Later, the Federal Govern­ment Emplo­yees Housing Foundation (FGEHF) director general, Mohammad Zafar Iqbal, appeared before the SJC with the record of the sale of three plots purchased by the ex-judge.

The judge has bought one plot in the Park Road Housing Scheme, another in a scheme owned by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and a third in the Chaklala Heights, near the old Rawalpindi airport.

When the SJC asked Mr Iqbal how FGEHF could allot more than one plot to a government employee, he said only one allotment was made by the foundation and the transaction with SCBA was unrelated to it.

A zonal administrator of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Lahore told the council that the tenancy for an office was transferred to Sayyed Tassadduq Mustafa Naqvi, one of the ex-judge’s sons at the Diyal Singh Mansion, an upscale area of the city.

The transaction — for eight marlas of office space, four on the ground floor and four marlas basement — was done at Rs35 per square foot when a similar space was available to an adjacent shop at Rs203 per sq ft.

The ETPB representative told the council that the board wanted to increase the monthly rent, but a petition was filed before the Lahore High Court (LHC) by the shopkeepers, led by Mr Tassaduq.

The board was ordered by the LHC to decide the issue on a case-to-case basis.

The Religious Affairs Minis­try federal secretary then determined the monthly rent at Rs9 per square metre for the office owned by the former judge’s son.

Ex-judge contests proceedings

As the SJC records witness testimonies, Mr Naqvi has contested the proceedings on the grounds that the commission was not empowered to proceed with the complaints against former judges.

In a letter to the SJC secretary, the judge stated that the restriction had been laid down in Article 209 of the Constitution.

The letter explained that SJC’s decision on Jan 12 to continue the proceedings against him despite his resignation was illegal and without lawful authority.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2024

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