In a first, SJC to act against ‘inefficient’ judges

Delay in deciding cases violates Article X of Judges’ Code of Conduct

Hasnaat Malik April 16, 2019
Supreme Court. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: For the first time in the country’s judicial history, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) is going to proceed against judges over charges of “inefficiency”.

The five-member council led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa is the only constitutional forum invoked under Article 209 of the Constitution for removing superior court judges over the violation of the Judges’ Code of Conduct.

The SJC has remained active for the last three years. Many show-cause notices have been issued to judges of superior courts over charges of misconduct.

The notices have mostly been discharged after the judges submitted satisfactory replies to the council. A couple of judges decided not to contest the notices and preferred to tender their resignations to secure pension benefits.

The Supreme Court’s 2018 annual report reveals that the council took notice of various complaints of misconduct received against judges of superior courts.

After due procedure enshrined under Article 209 of the Constitution and the SJC Procedure of Enquiry 2005, it disposed of 56 cases during one year.

Now the SJC under the chairmanship of Chief Justice Khosa is proceeding against judges over charges of “inefficiency”. Sources told The Express Tribune that the council had already issued a show-cause notice to a Lahore High Court judge for slow progress in deciding cases, which is in violation of Article X of the Judges’ Code of Conduct.

According to the article, a judge should take all steps to decide cases within the shortest time and make every effort to minimise the suffering of litigants by deciding cases expeditiously through proper, written judgements.

“A judge who is unmindful or indifferent towards this aspect of his duty is not faithful to his work, which is a grave fault,” it reads.

However, the council had never issued a show-cause notice to any judge over the violation of Article X.

Amina Sheikh, a lawyer, believes that ensuring efficiency in the dispensation of justice is a condition precedent for the rule of law.

A Pakistan Bar Council executive member told The Express Tribune that the decision to proceed against any judge who is found to be inefficient was becoming increasingly unavoidable.

“It is an essential step in judicial accountability and if executed fairly and transparently, it will significantly improve the overall efficiency and effectiveness of our judicial system,” he added.

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