Ex-SC Judge Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi Says SJC Has 'No Jurisdiction' To Proceed Against Him As Witnesses Testify

In a letter to the SJC secretary, Justice Naqvi argues he is not legally nor constitutionally bound to participate in proceedings against him

Ex-SC Judge Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi Says SJC Has 'No Jurisdiction' To Proceed Against Him As Witnesses Testify

Former Supreme Court of Pakistan judge Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi has refused to participate in the Supreme Judicial Council's proceedings against him, arguing that the council was acting beyond its jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the SJC has decided to summon Justice (retired) Naqvi's sons as it recorded statements of witnesses.

In a letter to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) secretary, Justice Naqvi argued that he was neither obliged nor legally or constitutionally bound to participate in any council proceedings against him because he was no longer a judge of the Supreme Court. 

Justice Naqvi, who resigned from the SC earlier this year, is currently facing proceedings in SJC, where he stands accused of misconduct, corruption and abuse of power. He had resigned after the top court refused his request to pause proceedings of the SJC against him. "Circumstances which are a matter of public knowledge and to some extent public record," he had cited. The president subsequently accepted his resignation.

Despite his resignation, the SJC continued proceedings against him. 

In his letter, Justice (retd) Naqvi stated that he had been conveyed an order of the SJC from January 12, the contents of which reflect that proceedings against him are still continuing. 

"It is to be noted that the proceedings were continued despite of the fact that the undersigned (Naqvi) has already resigned from the office on January 10, 2024, and no longer is a judge of the Supreme Court with effect from the aforesaid date," Naqvi stated. President Arif Alvi accepted Naqvi's resignationlvi on January 11. 

"The Supreme Judicial Council is continuing with proceedings pertaining to the matter relating to the undersigned initiated by it under Article 209 of the Constitution on the basis of above-referred complaints," Justice (retired) Naqvi's letter stated.

"This is to inform that as per the law and the Constitution, as it stands today as well as past precedents, the Supreme Judicial Council has no jurisdiction to initiate or continue with any proceedings under Article 209 of the Constitution in any matter pertaining to a person who is no longer holding the office of Superior Court i.e. high court or supreme court," he contended.

He has further argued that the SJC's order of January 12 to continue proceedings against him despite his resignation from the top court was illegal and without lawful authority.

"Furthermore, given the fact that in this matter, the Supreme Judicial Council is acting beyond its jurisdiction," he said.

"Therefore, I am neither obliged nor legally nor constitutionally bound to participate in these proceedings which are without constitutional domain," Justice (retired) Naqvi stated.

Justice (retired) Naqvi further informed the SJC that the power of attorney he had given to his counsel, Khawaja Haris, had become invalid because he had ceased to be a judge of the Supreme Court.

"However, to resolve any ambiguity in this regard, the power of attorney is hereby withdrawn and stands cancelled by the undersigned (Naqvi)," the letter stated. 

He has requested the SJC secretary to inform the forum about his letter and the contentions mentioned therein.

On Thursday, the SJC was told that a private developer, Lahore Smart City (Pvt) Ltd, had issued one of the two banker cheques worth Rs50 million each for buying a residential plot in favour of Justice (retd) Naqvi. 

Witnesses testify

On Friday, the SJC Council resumed proceedings against Justice (retd) Naqvi, with Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa presiding.

The SJC decided to summon the sons of Justice (retd) Naqvi as witnesses. The council directed the Attorney General for Pakistan to withdraw past notices sent to Justice (retd) Naqvi's sons. 

During the council's meeting on Friday, statements of prosecution witnesses regarding the allotment of government plots to Naqvi were recorded.

SJC Chairman Isa observed that people often forget that the council's proceedings are funded by taxpayers' money and that two judges, members of the Council, must travel to the federal capital from other provinces. 

He further observed that the council is fully aware that the matter is pending before the top court, adding that the court had not issued any interim order to stay their proceedings. 

The chairman of the council further revealed that complaints against some other judges are also pending, adding that those complaints would be heard during in-camera meetings. Proceedings against Justice Naqvi, however, are being conducted before an open court on the request of the defendant, Chief Justice Isa clarified, adding that Justice (retd) Naqvi would be aware of the proceedings.

Chief Justice Isa further said that if anyone wants to cross-examine a witness or give an answer, they can join proceedings. 

During Friday's meeting, a businessman identified as Safdar Khan recorded his statement along with eight prosecution witnesses. 

He stated that he had bought a house in Gulberg III from Justice (retd) Naqvi for Rs130 million, adding that Justice (retd) Naqvi had reportedly purchased the house from one Wardah Naqvi.

The witness stated he paid for the house in three instalments, adding that Rs100 million were transferred through two pay orders of equal sums while the final Rs30 million was handed over in cash. 

The council asked the witness how he came to know Justice (retd) Naqvi. To this, the witness responded that he had been a friend of Justice (retd) Naqvi for seven years. 

He further stated that he had bought the property because Justice (retd) Naqvi wanted to sell it.
When the council inquired about the nature of the witness' business, he responded that he was involved in real estate trading.

The witness added that he had paid Rs50 million to Chaudhry Shahbaz on behalf of Justice (retd) Naqvi.

CJP Isa inquired whether the Lahore Smart City paid out the Rs50 million

The witness responded that it was his money, which Lahore Smart City had paid to Chaudhry Shehbaz. 

At this, the SJC chairman warned the witness not to try to be smart about it but to plainly explain why the Lahore Smart City had paid Rs50 million on his behalf.

To this, the witness explained that Lahore Smart City had bought several hundred kanals of land from him and thus owed him money.

"I had no idea that this would happen to me, and I would have to come here and answer," the witness said. 

During the SJC meeting, the Federal Government Employees Housing Society Director General Zafar Iqbal also recorded his statement as the ninth witness in the case. 

CJP Isa asked why the society had awarded plots to one person. 

After all statements were recorded, the council indefinitely adjourned further proceedings.

Prosecuting retired judges

Meanwhile, the federal government has filed an intra-court appeal challenging the top court's judgement in the Afiya Shehrbano Zia case wherein it was held that proceedings of SJC cannot be continued against judges who have retired or had resigned.

A five-judge bench, headed by Justice Aminud Din Khan, is expected to hear the appeal on February 19. The court has already issued notices to the parties in the case after deeming it maintainable. 

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