–SJC offers SC justice to present his case during preliminary inquiry
–Only 28 complaints/references currently pending with SJC
The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has sent Supreme Court (SC) Justice Qazi Faez Isa a copy of the reference filed against him by President Dr Arif Alvi and has also offered him to present his case during the preliminary inquiry, a private media outlet reported on Saturday.
According to the report, the copy of the reference, along with other documents, was delivered to Justice Isa at his Islamabad residence on Friday night.
Under Rule 8 of the Supreme Judicial Council Inquiry Procedure 2005, the SJC shall place the information in respect of the conduct of a judge before the council for examination. If the council is of the view that before forming an opinion, it should also hear the judge under inquiry, it shall require the said judge to present himself before the council.
The SJC is compelled to provide him the information and material received against him under the rule. If the council is of the opinion that it requires more material or seeks additional information before it can form any opinion, it shall direct accordingly.
On Friday, a five-member SJC bench, comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Sindh High Court (SHC) Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Shaikh and Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth, heard the references amid protests by the legal fraternity which terms the references as “mala fide”.
The presidential references were filed against Justice Isa and SHC Justice KK Agha, who are widely recognised and acknowledged as independent, upright and competent judges. The references accuse the judges of allegedly possessing properties in the United Kingdom.
The move garnered criticism from the legal fraternity with the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) demanding President Alvi’s impeachment for filing the reference, while other bar associations also expressed solidarity with the top court judge.
‘ONLY 28 COMPLAINTS PENDING WITH SJC’:
In a related development, the SJC, for the first time, revealed that only 28 complaints out of a total of 426 filed against superior judges are currently pending with it while the remaining have been disposed of.
The revelation was made by the SC public relations officer in a statement after members of the legal fraternity claimed that the SJC has about 350 references pending.
“Of the 426 references, 398 cases were processed as per ‘The Supreme Judicial Council Procedure of Enquiry 2005’. All the cases are in process and shall be disposed of in due course of time,” the statement added.
Earlier, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Executive Member Raheel Kamran Sheikh had approached the SC seeking complete disclosure of complaints and references filed against judges. However, the top court had turned down Kamran’s plea.
Sheikh had said that process of the judicial accountability must be made more open, transparent and across the board to inspire public confidence and ensure independence of the judiciary, therefore, the demands made by the apex bar for disclosures and against selective accountability must be fulfilled before we can fully trust the process.
According to the media report, out of 426 complaints/references, only one judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui has been ousted by SJC. It added that a few judges accused of misconduct voluntarily resigned to save their post-retirement benefits while a large number of complaints were disposed of after the retirement of the accused judges.