ISLAMABAD: A group of civil society members has approached the Supreme Court (SC) against the Supreme Judicial Council's (SJC) decision to reject their reference against former chief justice of Pakistan, Justice (retd) Mian Saqib Nisar.
The petitioners - Afiya Shehrbano Zia, Afrasiab Khattak, Muhammad Ziauddin, Farhatullah Babar, Nighat Said Khan, Farida Shaheed, Rubina Saigol and Bushra Gauhar - were among the 98 citizens who filed a reference against the ex-CJP in October 2018.
The reference was filed under Article 209 for breach of the judges’ code of conduct. It was disposed of as infructuous by the SJC through an order issued on March 8, 2019, a little over two months after the former chief justice's retirement on January 17.
The petitioners, however, contend that they were never informed of the status of their complaint and only learnt of its disposal after writing a letter to the SC registrar.
The registrar also informed them "that under Rule 13 of the Supreme Judicial Council Procedure of Enquiry 2005, proceedings of the Council are to be conducted in camera and are not open to public".
I stayed within my constitutional limits: CJP
Finding the response "unsatisfactory and uninformative", the petitioners wrote again to the SC registrar, questioning the SJC's decision to take up the reference two months after Justice (retd) Nisar's retirement.
The petitioners expressed concern over the implications of the SJC order and how the council's "indifference" towards allegations of misconduct would allow impunity to prevail.
“It [SJC] ought not to avoid its duty to hold inquiry and withhold its opinion as to whether misconduct was committed or not merely
because the judge in question happens to have retired,” stated the letter.
In the petition filed in the SC, the complainants have challenged the SJC decision to dispose of the reference against Justice (retd) Nisar, and the council's failure to take up the reference during the ex-CJP's tenure.
Invoking Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, the petitioners have prayed the SC to take notice of the SJC's delay in hearing the reference and to render an opinion on the allegations of misconduct against Justice (retd) Nisar.
The petitioners have requested the apex court to set aside the SJC order as void ab initio and a nullity in the eyes of the law, and declare that the reference is still pending before the SJC.
The petition also seeks directives to the SJC to render its opinion on the allegations of misconduct against Justice (retd) Nisar and report them to the president, as per Article 209 (6) of the Constitution.
The petitioners have requested that the SJC's findings should be publicly disclosed.
They have also asked the apex court to pass directions to structure the SJC’s discretion to list and hear complaints, and that the SJC should be directed to amend the Supreme Judicial Council Procedure of Enquiry 2005.
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