Lawyer seeks records of all references filed, pending before SJC

Khawaja has made a request for all data since 2010


Rizwan Shehzad   August 05, 2018
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: A lawyer has requested the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to provide a record of references filed against judges since 2010 and still pending before SJC — a constitutional body tasked with scrutinising the conduct of judges.

An ex-serviceman and an incumbent member of the legal fraternity, Inamur Rahiem Khawaja, has requested for record under Right to Access of Information as provided under Article 19-A of the Constitution to the secretary SJC, who is also the registrar of the Supreme Court.

While appreciating the recent decision of SJC to hold its proceedings in open court as “a great breakthrough and a step towards the principle of transparency and fair trial”, Khawaja said on Saturday that he made a submission to the five-member bench led by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar during the open-court trial of Islamabad High Court’s judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on July 30.

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In the request, he said, when he informed the CJP that he had also filed references against judges of the top court, and some of the references were pending since 2012, CJP Nisar assured that all pending references would be taken up as per mechanism introduced by the apex court.

Subsequently, he has also requested the SJC secretary to provide him with information regarding how many references were filed since 2010 and still pending, as being a fundamental right. Secondly, Khawaja has sought information about the number of references that could not be taken up well in time and a list of judges against whom the references were filed, but who then retired and the references became infructuous.

Also, he has asked the number of references wherein the proceedings have been completed but the judgment has not been announced. Fourthly, he has drawn official’s attention towards SJC’s recent decision through which SJC exonerated Justice Mazahar All Naqvi of the Lahore High Court from all the charges. He, however, said the judgment has not been made available on the SC website and same may be uploaded there.

Lastly, he has asked what action was taken against the complainant in the case of Justice Naqvi because as per para 14(1) of the Supreme Court Judicial Counsel Procedure of Enquiry, 2005, in case of frivolous information the complainant would be also penalised.

Earlier in 2016, former CJP Anwar Zaheer Jamali had dismissed a similar plea seeking an order for the SJC to expeditiously dispose of complaints and references pending before it against the judges. His order read: “The prayer made by the petitioner under Article 184(3) of the Constitution violates the spirit of articles 209 and 211 of the Constitution, read with the Procedure of Enquiry, 2005.”

Later, a member of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Raheel Kamran Sheikh, approached the Supreme Court with a plea to make accountability of judges more effective.

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The petitioner had prayed the apex court to publically disclose the total number of complaints filed before it since its constitution, the number of cases where proceedings were initiated, how many references and complaints were dropped after consideration, and how many references and complaints have become infructuous.

It was contended that the council has a unique place in the country’s constitutional structure as it is has been given the responsibility of ensuring the accountability of an organ of the state that has been given the ultimate duty of constitutional interpretation, enforcement of all fundamental rights, and as a necessary corollary, the rule of law.  The court, however, had dismissed Sheikh’s plea.

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