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Pakistan's judiciary in crisis: Lawyers' body files misconduct complaint against SC judge

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Islamabad | March 11, 2023 10:05:41 PM IST
The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) on Friday moved a complaint before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) seeking necessary action against a judge of the apex court for his alleged involvement in recent audio leaks and corruption. The complaint against Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi was filed in line with the PBC's Feb 21 decision taken under Article 209 of the constitution, Dawn reported.

Through the complaint, the country's top regulatory body of lawyers called for a thorough inquiry by the SJC while associating the respondent judge with the proceedings so that a final finding may be given.

The 10-page complaint was filed jointly by PBC's Vice Chairman Haroonur Rashid and Chairman Executive Committee Hassan Raza Pasha.

Dawn reported that this is the third such complaint filed against the respondent. Earlier, a Lahore-based lawyer Mian Dawood and the PML-N's Lawyers Forum had submitted similar complaints with the SJC.

In February, a number of audio clips surfaced on social media. In one of the clips, Chaudhry Parvez Elahi was purportedly heard talking to the judge before whom he wanted a corruption case to be fixed. A voice said to belong to the ex-Punjab CM could be heard telling the judge that he was coming to meet him, Dawn reported.

According to the PBC's complaint, the respondent judge by his conduct violated the SJC's code of conduct and contributed to disobedience to the Constitution, "obviously making himself unworthy of an office of a judge of the Supreme Court".

The complaint recalled that Article III of the code requires of a judge to be above approach and for this purpose to keep his conduct in all official or private matters, free from impropriety. But the conduct exhibited by the respondent judge is a clear violation of the code, it said.

The PBC argued Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, in the viral audio, was found to be clearly instructing a counsel to get an important case fixed before the respondent judge. It has created a public perception on a large scale against the independence, sanctity and dignity of the superior judiciary, warranting inquiry into the matter.

The complaint also alleged that the respondent judge had attempted to manage and legalise his income through the sale of property namely House No 375, Phase II, DHA, Gujranwala Cantt in 2021 for a consideration of Rs60 million when the property was purchased for Rs4.7m. The respondent allegedly manoeuvred to revise his 2021 tax returns multiple times in an attempt to justify his income.

It alleged that this assertion got fortified from the facts that a plot in Gulberg III, Lahore, was declared for a value of Rs60m, which was later pushed up to Rs72m. This purchase was administered by the respondent upon the sale of the Gujranwala property.

Likewise, the complaint alleged, the respondent's assets present a lucid picture of his assets being disproportionate to the source of his known/earned income, adding the property called Allied Plaza (Civil Lines Gujranwala) has never been declared by the respondent despite its ownership being held by him.

Moreover, the PBC said, two of the respondent's sons hold their law office in the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), Lahore. The course of litigation regarding its rent was initially decided against his sons by the ETPB chairman. But the respondent judge allegedly managed the decision later to tilt in favour of his sons.

The general perception in the legal fraternity is that the respondent judge has been using his influence to patronise his sons' practice which is a serious breach of the code of conduct, the complaint alleged.

A skeleton of properties held by the respondent also seems to be disproportionate to and beyond his lawful means of income.

The list includes a residential piece of land measuring 3.5 kanals bearing No 100 in St. Johnes Park Lahore Cantt, which was purchased from one Chaudhry Shahbaz. The property's actual value is not less than Rs300m. But when it was registered in the name of the respondent the transaction was shown to be against a consideration of Rs105m thereby concealing its market value, the complaint alleged.

The respondent holds one plot in the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation (FGEHF), Islamabad, a 2,900 sq ft apartment in the FGEHF, a one-kanal plot in SCBAP, Islamabad, as well as an undeclared property known as Allied Plaza, Civil Lines, Gujranwala. In addition, the complaint said, that plot No 144, Block F 1, Gulberg III, Lahore measuring two kanals, is also on the list, which is still inconclusive.

The complaint also alleged that the chief justice of Pakistan, instead of protecting the honour of the judiciary, was protecting the respondent judge unjustifiably as serious allegations have been levelled against the latter. (ANI)

 
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