Petition Challenges Justice Ijazul Ahsan's Participation In SJC Proceedings Against Justice Naqvi

Supreme Court Justice Ijazul Ahsan's participation in Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) proceedings against Justice Mazahir Naqvi has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

Petition Challenges Justice Ijazul Ahsan's Participation In SJC Proceedings Against Justice Naqvi

ISLAMABAD: Advocate Mian Dawood, complainant against Justice Naqvi in the SJC, on Wednesday, moved a petition requesting for recusal of Justice Ahsan.

Last month, the SJC, headed by its Chairman Justice Qazi Faez Isa, had issued a second show-cause notice to Justice Naqvi to file reply within a fortnight.

The decision was taken by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Chief Justice Lahore High Court Muhammad Ameer Bhatti and Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Naeem Akhtar Afghan, while Justice Ahsan had dissented.

However, instead Justice Naqvi challenged the second show cause notice by way of a petition under Article 184(3) containing replies to the questions mentioned in the Notice.

The instant petition against Justice Ahsan membership in SJC is also filed under Article 184(3).

The petition stated that the allegations, upon which Justice Naqvi was issued show cause notice, is related to the audio conversations between him and Advocate Abid Shahid Zuberi who was counsel in CCPO Lahore Mehmood Dogar Case.

It added that the said case was heard by Justice Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Sayyed Mazahhar Ali Akbar Naqvi.

"Hon’ble Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan is a member of the Respondent No. 2(SJC), which has issued a show cause notice to Hon’ble Justice Sayyed Mazahhar Ali Akbar Naqvi, albeit with Hon’ble Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan’s having voted against issuance of show cause notice to Hon’ble Justice Sayyed Mazahhar Ali Akbar Naqvi," stated the petition.

Advocate Dawood in his petition stated that he has moved an application before the SJC requesting that Justice Ahsan may graciously recuse himself from participating in further proceedings as the latter was a member of the bench and signatory of the orders of the said case.

"The instant petition merits urgent attention of this Court as it hinges upon safeguarding and upholding the canons of natural justice, administration of justice and the independence of judiciary as well as the appearance of independence of judiciary, internally and externally," the petition contended.

"It is reiterated and vehemently submitted that one of the rules of natural justice is that the adjudicator should be impartial. This would mean that he should neither entertain a prejudice against either party to a lis, nor should he be favorably inclined towards any of them."

Participation of Justice Ahsan in the SJC proceedings contributes to and raises grave concerns vis-à-vis the appearance of impartiality, the petition added.

"The proceedings before the Respondent No. 2 (SJC), being the only body for judicial accountability, must, therefore, be above and beyond any suspicious or doubt as to the bias and/or conflict of interest of any of its members. Therefore and in order to ensure that due process, both substantive and procedural, is duly afforded and ensures in terms of Articles 4 and 10A of the Constitution."

"The salutary principle of impartiality lies at the very core of the functioning of our justice system and is of paramount importance in ensuring the fairness and integrity of the judicial system. Impartiality requires judges to approach cases with an open mind, devoid of personal interest, external influences and even a perceived conflict of interest. In the context of the Respondent No. 2 (SJC), the role of impartiality becomes even more critical."

"As the only authority in ensuring judicial accountability, the Respondent No. 2 Court bears immense responsibility. Hon’ble members of the Respondent No. 2 are held to the highest standards of impartiality, requiring them to dispel even the remotest impressions of personal affiliations, beliefs, political ideologies, and external pressures when weighing and deciding cases."

The top court is requested to declare that Justice Ahsan’s participation in the proceedings of the SJC is in violation of Articles 9 and 10A of the Constitution.

"Consequently, it is further prayed that it be declared that the judge next most senior may replace Hon’ble Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan as a member of the Supreme Judicial Council for the purposes of deciding the petitioner’s complaint against Hon’ble Justice Sayyed Mazahhar Ali Akbar Naqvi," the petition stated.

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain