Justice Naqvi terms SJC’s ‘malicious campaign’ attack on judiciary’s independence

Justice Naqvi terms complaints against him as “violative of and inconsistent” in petition challenging SJC proceedings

Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi. — Website/Supreme Court
  • SC judge accuses SJC of instigating media trial against him.
  • “Complaints ‘direct, blatant attack’ on judiciary’s independence.”
  • Judge seeks declaration of proceedings by SJC “coram non judice”.

ISLAMABAD: As the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) is set to meet today to hear complaints against SC judges, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi filed a petition in the Supreme Court, terming the malicious campaign and consequent complaints against him a direct and blatant attack on the independence of the judiciary.

The SC judge has also accused the SJC of subjecting him to a “media trial” which has further maligned and ridiculed him in the public eye.

Justice Naqvi’s plea challenged the show-cause notice issued to him by the judicial panel on October 27.

The SJC, on the other hand, scheduled to meet today after Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, on Friday, had summoned its meeting to review the complaints against Justices Sayyed Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi and Sardar Tariq Masood.

“These are violative of and inconsistent with the right to access to justice guaranteed under Articles 4, 9 and 10A of the Constitution,” it read, adding that Justice Naqvi reserves the right to “urge further grounds and submit additional material in support thereof at the time of hearing”.

The Supreme Court judge, in this petition, mentioned that the complaints against him are “mala fide and non-est”.

“The proceedings of the SJC and the SCN are without jurisdiction, coram non judice and void ab initio. These are without lawful authority and of no legal effect,” the plea read.

It added that these complaints give rise to the following question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

In his plea, Justice Naqvi asked the following questions:

1. Whether the very initiation of the proceedings by the SJC and the show-cause notice are without lawful authority, of no legal effect and in violation of Article 209 of the Consitution and the Rules as well as the legal and constitutional rights of the petitioner?

2. Whether the SCN and the hearing notice fulfil the legal and constitutional requirements as laid down by the SC?

3. Whether the proceedings by the SJC and the SCN violate the principles of natural justice, due process and fair trial?

4. Whether the proceedings of the SJC were initiated and conducted in a manner ex facie discriminatory and these, therefore, inter alia, violate Articles 4, 10A, 14 and 25 of the Constitution?

5. Whether participation of the CJP Isa, Senior Puisne Judge Sardar Tariq Masood and Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan in the proceedings of the SJC resulting in the show cause notice being issued to the petitioner make all orders passed in such proceedings as without lawful authority and of no legal effect?

6. Whether any declared asset be made basis to proceed against a judge in a complaint by a person who is an alien to the alleged transaction when no notice or proceeding has been initiated by the registering or taxation authority?

Justice Naqvi, in his plea, maintained that a declared asset cannot be made basis to proceed against a judge in a complaint by a person who is an alien to the alleged transaction when no notice or proceeding has been initiated by the registering or taxation authority.

He has urged the apex court to declare initiation of proceedings by the SJC coram non judice, without lawful authority and of no legal effect and quash the same.

The judge has asked to declare that the purported notice dating October 28 and the hearing notice dating November 13 without “lawful authority and of no legal effect, urging to “quash” them.

He has also sought relief from the apex court, as it may deem fit and proper.

SJC issues show-cause notice to Justice Naqvi

Last month, the SJC issued a show-cause notice to Justice Naqvi over the complaints registered against him, following which the judge was asked to submit his reply by November 10.

Justice Naqvi, in his reply, raised objections about CJP Isa and two other members of the council.

“Their participation in the proceedings resulting in a show cause notice being issued to me taints those proceedings, inter alia, with bias and makes all orders passed in such proceedings as being without lawful authority and of no legal effect,” Justice Naqvi stated about the top judge and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan in the 18-page document submitted to the SJC.

The judge objected that CJP Isa and Justice Afghan being the chairman and member of the inquiry commission, respectively, investigating the audio leaks case against him, cannot participate in the SJC’s proceedings against him.

“The [inquiry commission] proceedings are sub judice. The same alleged audio leaks which were referred to the inquiry commission are the subject matter of the complaints against me before SJC. The SRO is still in the field. S.R.O. 596(I)/2023 dated May 19, 2023 is attached as Annex L. Order of the Supreme Court dated May 26, 2023, passed in Constitution Petitions No.14 to 17 of 2023 is attached as Annexure M,” he stated.

Justice Naqvi then urged the two judges to recuse themselves from hearing the complaints against him in the SJC.

Moreover, he maintained the same about Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, basing his objection on the claim that the judge is “disqualified from hearing those complaints as a member of SJC after having expressed an opinion on the complaints against me”.

Complaints against SC judges

Besides Justice Naqvi, complaints have been filed against other judges of the superior court. However, it is unclear whether notices or action against other judges was discussed.

Justice Masood, senior judge of the Supreme Court and member of SJC, had submitted his legal opinion on the misconduct complaints filed against apex court Justice Naqvi in September this year, according to The News.

Several misconduct complaints were filed against Justice Naqvi during the tenure of former chief justice Umar Ata Bandial. Justice (retd) Bandial had referred the matter to Justice Masood for examining it and giving his legal opinion.

Initially, the misconduct complaint against Justice Naqvi was filed with the SJC by a Lahore-based lawyer Muhammad Dawood. Later on, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice Chairman Haroon Rashid filed a misconduct complaint against the SC judge after an audio leak emerged purportedly featuring a conversation about the fixation of the case before a particular bench or judge with former Punjab chief minister Pervaiz Elahi.

Earlier in April, Justice Isa and Justice Masood urged then CJP Bandial to convene the meeting of the SJC for the consideration of misconduct complaints filed against Justice Naqvi.

In a joint letter addressed to all the members of the SJC, both the judges had said that they were “waiting for you to convene a meeting of the Council to consider the complaints and to ascertain whether there is a substance in the stated allegations; we must exonerate the respondent judge and fully restore his honour or else submit our report in terms of the Constitution”.

Both the senior judges said that written complaints were received, including from the PBC alleging misconduct and financial impropriety by Justice Naqvi.

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