ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Thursday dismissed all complaints of ‘misconduct’ against Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi while announcing its second major decision in a span of 24 hours.
A day after President Arif Alvi removed IHC’s senior judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, the SJC cleared IHC chief justice of all charges. Kasi was accused of illegally appointing IHC officials, including his brother.
A statement by the SJC said the decision was made by a bench chaired by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar. The council examined four complaints pending against Kasi in a session on Thursday.
“After detailed deliberations and discussion, the council came to a conclusion on the basis of material available on record [that] no case of misconduct was made out against the judge,” read the press release.
In September 2016, the SC had declared more than 70 appointments as illegal. In view of the SC judgment, Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman resigned and a complaint was filed against Justice Kasi. The complaint remained pending for more than two years.
The announcement comes a day after President Alvi removed Justice Siddiqui as IHC judge under Article 209(5) on the SJC’s recommendation under Article 209(6) read with Article 48(1) of the Constitution.
The council had unanimously opined that while delivering a speech before the District Bar Association in Rawalpindi on July 21, Justice Siddiqui displayed conduct unbecoming of a high court judge.
On September 26, 2016, the apex court had declared appointments made in the IHC since 2011 onwards as null and void, with the ruling that these appointments were made without following proper formalities. While declaring the appointments illegal, the SC had observed if the competent authority itself started cherry picking by deliberately ignoring and overlooking meritorious candidates in appointment, the image of the institution would be tainted beyond repair.
In one of the references, General Secretary of the IHC Bar Association Waqas Malik cited different observations of the verdict to support his claim that the IHC CJ has allegedly violated the oath. He said the IHC CJ’s real brother, Idrees Khan Kasi, was given the charge of additional registrar IHC and the incumbent chief also allegedly facilitated other illegal appointments.
While addressing the matter related to the appointment of Idrees Kasi, the SC stated in paragraph 30 of the judgment that “the incumbent Chief Justice was nevertheless a judge in the Islamabad High Court and could have exercised influence for the appointment of his brother”. In paragraph 71, the apex court noted that Idrees Kasi was directly appointed without advertisement on the post of deputy registrar which is meant for promotion in April 2012.
“It is impossible that even a year after establishment of the Islamabad High Court, there was no other deserving candidate who could be appointed on this post on promotion or transfer basis, that too without advertisement and treating him as the sole candidate for this post,” the three member bench of the SC had stated in the verdict.
Malik and others had prayed the SJC to proceed against the IHC CJ under Article 209 of the Constitution and remove him from the portfolio of the chief justice and office of the high court. The SJC has, however, dismissed all the references against Kasi, who is going to retire next month.