‘Politically-motivated’: Justice Naqvi moves SC against SJC’s show-cause notices

ISLAMABAD: Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi on Thursday challenged in the Supreme Court the two show-cause notices issued to him by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) over allegations of financial misconduct.

In his petition, Justice Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi termed the “so-called complaints” filed against him with the SJC politically motivated. He contended that he was merely fulfilling “his solemn duty to protect and safeguard the Constitution” which was being violated by delaying the general elections in the provincial assembly of Punjab.

The judge made the Federation of Pakistan a respondent through the Ministry of Law, the president of Pakistan and the SJC were also added as respondents. The petition was submitted under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

In his petition, Justice Naqvi requested that the complaints against him be heard in the open court.

In its October 27 session, the SJC, the Constitution platform for accountability of judges of the superior courts, reviewed 29 complaints filed against different judges. The council, however, dismissed 19 of them and issued a show cause notice to Justice Naqvi for the remaining 10, accusing him of financial misconduct.

In the petition, Justice Naqvi recalled the principles of the salience of judicial accountability in upholding the legitimacy of the judicial institution and maintained that Justice Mansoor Ali Shah had explained it in his judgement in the case of Justice Qazi Faez Isa v Federation of Pakistan. The petitioner contended that the right of a judge to be treated in accordance with the law is “equally important”.

The petitioner, citing Article 9, protested that access to justice is a fundamental right that is guaranteed by the Constitution. “Without the independence of the judiciary this right is illusory,” he maintained and added that due to this the interference in the office and/or the tenure of a judge is “a matter of public importance relating to the enforcement of fundamental rights”.

Justice Naqvi said that he was a part of the two-member bench that presided over the former Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Hameed Dogar’s transfer case in which the issue of elections of the Punjab Assembly within 90 days of its dissolution was discussed.

The petitioner claimed that the bench then took notice of the issue of elections and that the former chief justice (CJ) Umar Ata Bandial initiated suo moto proceedings, forming a nine-member bench to preside over it.

He further added that Justice Athar Minallah, in his additional notes in the same case, observed that the delay in holding the general election deprived the citizens “of their most valuable constitutional right”.

Justice Naqvi, in his 40-page petition, has claimed that this proves that the then-federal government delayed the elections in the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

In the petition to the SC, the judge of the apex court protested that a malicious campaign was started against him for a suo moto notice taken by a two-member bench of which he was a part. “They held press conferences and issued maliciou statements against me,” he contended, adding that former members of the cabinet were amongst those who launched a campaign against him.

He remarked that during this, members of bar councils, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) in particular, met with then-prime minister of Pakistan Shahbaz Sharif and other cabinet members after which the complaints were filed against him to the SJC, terming them “politically motivated”.

On the day of the SJC meeting in October, Justice Naqvi had lodged a petition in the apex court, contesting the council proceedings. He requested the court to nullify the misconduct allegations against him, deeming them ‘without lawful authority and of no legal effect.’

Later on November 10, Justice Naqvi sought the recusal of three members of the SJC on November 10 from hearing the misconduct complaints against him – namely Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Naeem Akhtar Afghan – on several grounds including “bias”.

 

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