The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) will take up a complaint of misconduct against Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan on March 11.
Justice Khan is facing a reference as his name surfaced on the list of those having offshore properties in the 2016 Panama Papers leaks. He was also accused of indulging in money laundering and was issued a show-cause notice by the SJC in February 2017.
The five-judge council headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa is the only constitutional forum invoked under Article 209 of the Constitution for removing superior court judges.
Earlier, the hearing had been fixed for March 4 but was extended.
After the retirement of ex-chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar, it is going to be the first time that CJ Asif Saeed Khosa would be presiding over the council in LHC judge’s matter.
On January 14, the SJC rejected a request by former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to constitute a commission for recording his evidence. In its last order, the SJC recalled that Justice Chaudhry had voluntarily filed his affidavit but was not forthcoming for cross-examination.
Justice Chaudhry had requested the council to appoint the commission through senior counsel Hamid Khan.
“We decline the request as we do not find it expedient to appoint the commission,” then CJP observed, adding that the affidavit would only be treated if the former CJP came forward for cross-examination.
In his affidavit, Justice Chaudhry had defended Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan by saying that he did not receive any complaint against him from any person, bar, judge or the LHC chief justice during his tenure as the chief justice of Pakistan, and that the sitting judge was not short-tempered or disrespectful to lawyers, litigants or government officials.
On the contrary, the ex-CJP said that during his tenure as judge of the high court, Justice Khan conducted himself with the highest dignity and his elevation and working as a judge added to the respect and decorum of the institution.
Justice Khan, he said, had a good reputation among his fellow judges, lawyers and litigants as an upright, honest, hard-working and dedicated judge.
On the last date of hearing, the SJC had also rejected a representation signed by a number of members of the Punjab Bar Council in favour of Justice Khan. Interestingly, most of the lawyers belonged to Hamid Khan Group.
Hamid Khan, the counsel for LHC judge had informed the SJC that four defence witnesses, who had to depose before the council, were still abroad.
Hamid Khan had requested the SJC to postpone the proceedings for two weeks, but when the ex-chief justice asked then chief justice-designate Asif Saeed Khosa, the latter suggested not giving an exact date for the next hearing.
The LHC judge in his reply claimed that no tax was ever evaded by him.
It is also contended that there was no requirement of disclosure of foreign properties to Pakistan tax authorities and the properties in Orlando, Florida were mortgaged before his elevation as a LHC judge and through a gift deed dated February 3 2010; those properties were gifted to his brother Muhammad Ahmad Irfan Khan.