Supreme Court Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi on Thursday filed a fresh petition before the apex court, seeking the dismissal of a show-cause notice issued to him by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to submit his defense against several allegations of misconduct.
Describing the allegations as “false” and “not supported by evidence,” Justice Naqvi also wrote a letter addressed to the members of the SJC—Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and Justices Sardar Tariq Masood and Ijazul Ahsan—with a request fix his petition before an appropriate bench immediately. This bench, he wrote, should comprise judges other than those of the SJC, who may recuse themselves.
Referring to Sections 3 and 7 of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023, Justice Naqvi’s letter said it was the responsibility of the committee of senior judges to fix a hearing, no later than 14 days, of all petitions moved under Article 184(3) or any application seeking interim relief. Noting that he had already filed two petitions—on Nov. 20 and Nov. 30—challenging the SJC proceedings, as well as an application seeking interim relief, he lamented that the SJC proceedings were proceeding in a manner that intruded on his fundamental rights on the basis of “frivolous allegations.”
All three members of the committee tasked with fixing cases are part of the five-member SJC that is holding proceedings against Justice Naqvi. On Oct. 21, the SJC, with a majority of 4-1, issued a show-cause notice to Justice Naqvi while reviewing 10 complaints filed against him earlier this year. It asked him to file his reply within 14 days.
The fresh petition, meanwhile, argues that breach of any of the articles of the Code of Conduct for judges does not amount to misconduct within the text of Article 209(5) of the Constitution. It also maintains that audio leaks cannot be used as basis for issuing a show-cause notice without any proof of its veracity.
Denying all allegations with regard to fixing of cases as well as those related to allegedly wrongful sale and purchase of properties as well as his sons’ alleged role as his front-men, Justice Naqvi took serious exception to the use of the word “corruption” in the revised show-cause notice. “It is improper and discourteous to use such language regarding a judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. More than the petitioner, use of such language undermines the sanctity and integrity of the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” states the petition.
“Use of such language is evidence of the [biases] and partiality of the members of SJC,” it continues, referring to the earlier petition in which the judge had accused the members of the SJC of being biased against him. According to the petition, none of the complaints disclose any case against the petitioner. “These cannot form the basis of a show cause notice. Had the SJC examined the co-called complaints, it would have [become] obvious that no case for issuing a show cause notice was made out,” it states.
The petition further contends that “undue haste” in conducting proceedings against him without first deciding his legal and constitutional objections and providing him the essential material establish that the SJC proceedings are unfair. “He is being denied a fair hearing in contravention of the fundamental rights guaranteed, inter alia, under Article 4, 9, 10A, 14 and 25 of the Constitution,” it states.
The judge has also reiterated his claims of the complaints against him being a “direct and blatant attack on the independence of the judiciary,” and sought a suspension of SJC proceedings until his pending petitions have been decided.
The petition submitted that disclosing the respondent judge’s income tax returns to the complainants was in violation of his fundamental rights to liberty and privacy under Articles 9 and 14 as well as in contravention of Section 216 of the Income Tax Ordinance (ITO) 2001.