Justice Mazahar Ali Naqvi Denies Allegations In Supreme Judicial Council Complaint

Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi has denied all the allegations against him levelled in a set of complaints before Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), terming the complaints politically motivated. 

Justice Mazahar Ali Naqvi Denies Allegations In Supreme Judicial Council Complaint

ISLAMABAD: Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi has denied all the allegations against him levelled in a set of complaints before Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), terming the complaints politically motivated. 

He has filed a petition challenging the Show Cause Notice (SCN) issued to him by the SJC, and making contents of the Notice part of the petition. It is the first time that Justice Naqvi responded to the merits of complaints against him publicly.

With reference to the audio leaks, Justice Naqvi has denied the allegations that he is approachable. Justice Naqvi contended that the allegation is based on the alleged audio leaks, the veracity of which is not proven, neither the original recordings, if any, nor the source of original recordings stands disclosed in the complaint.

“The inquiry commission constituted to determine the genuineness of these alleged audio leaks has not given any findings. Further, the constitutional petition relating to these audio leaks are pending before this Court. This is without prejudice to the petitioner's stance, no case of misconduct is made out even as per the purported contents and transcripts of these audio recordings annexed with the complaint,” stated Justice Naqvi.

“Second, this allegation is an indictment of the entire Supreme Court of Pakistan and the judicial system. The Petitioner, as a Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, does not exercise any administrative functions. He has no authority to constitute Benches. He has no authority to assign cases to Benches.”

He has contended that there is no allegation by the Registrar that the former influenced fixation of any case before any Bench, adding that all orders passed in the case of Punjab CCPO Lahore Ghulam Muhammad Dogar were passed by either 3-Member Benches or 2-Member Benches comprising of Judges of this Court, including himself.

“Does this mean that other Judges were passing orders under the Petitioner's influence? Has such allegation been made against those Judges as well?” Justice Naqvi questioned, further maintaining that there is no connection with the case which was fixed much earlier than the release of the alleged audios.

Justice Naqvi is accused of acquiring property in Cantonment Lahore costing Rs. 106,842,000 when the market price was Rs. 500,000,000. Justice Naqvi vehemently denied the allegation. Justice Naqvi said that value of a property cannot be determined on mere speculations and the only yardstick is DC evaluation.

“The property was purchased for a sale consideration of Rs 130 million. It has been declared as such in the Petitioner's income tax return filed with FBR,” Justice Naqvi maintained, adding that he paid all the relevant taxes and charges.

Justice Naqvi further added that the SJC has no authority to determine the value of a property.

“It (SJC) also has no authority to question a registered sale deed or an income tax return. It is a matter of record that no one has challenged the validity of the sale deed.”

“Further, no proceedings have been initiated by the FBR to date for any misdeclaration in the income tax return or wealth statement of the Petitioner (Justice Naqvi). Similarly, the SJC has no authority to allege or inquire into the known sources of income of a Judge. The complainant has given specific reference to FBR returns, which is in violation of Section 216 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. Further, no proceedings have been initiated by the tax authorities till date.”

He has further contended that through an inordinate mistake included rental income.” The return was revised in order to correct this mistake. In any event, the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 permits revision of a return.”

It is further revealed in Justice Naqvi’s reply that his wealth statement was revised thrice October and December of 2021 to correct the value of Gulberg Property to Rs. 72 million which, due to clerical mistake, had been shown as Rs. 60 Million. Likewise, in December the wealth was revised to delete Honda and Toyota vehicles as both were sold.

Justice Naqvi has further contended that his income tax returns have been illegally procured by the complainant Mian Dawood.

“Collection of such evidence is in violation of the Petitioner's Fundamental Rights to liberty and privacy under Article 9 and 14 of the Constitution. State authorities are in duty bound to protect the privacy and personal freedom of citizens,” Justice Naqvi stated. 

“As per judgments of this Court the rights to privacy and personal freedom are absolute. Further, disclosing tax returns of the Petitioner (Justice Naqvi) to unauthorised persons such as the complainants is in violation of Section 216 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. Therefore, such material (evidence) was inadmissible as the illegal acts done for collecting the material were not inadvertent, rather were deliberate and conscious.”

Another allegation against Justice Naqvi is that he exercised extraordinary onfluence over the court and government officials by misusing his office to purchase the abovementioned property and deprived two legal heirs. On this, Justice Naqvi argued that he was shown all documented record at the time of pre-contract negotiations and he conducted reasonable due diligence, and did not find any legal impediment.

He further said he was not aware of the other legal heirs of Dr. Bisma Warsi, the owner of property, further revealing that he came to know about the fact of other legal heirs for the first time during the meeting of SJC on November 21.

“The Petitioner (Justice Naqvi) purchased the property from the declared and disclosed legal heirs of Dr. Bisma Warsi. If any other legal heir has any grievance, he or she has adequate legal remedies available under the law. Any illegality, in this regard was committed by the Seller, who failed to disclose other legal heirs. No illegality, however, can be attributed to the Petitioner. The petitioner is a victim not a perpetrator of such omission.”

Regarding the allegations of plot in Gulberg and DHA Gujranwala, Justice Naqvi denied and responded, House No. 144 E-1, Gulberg-III was purchased by the Petitioner for Rs.72 Million. The consideration was arranged by selling Plot No.275, measuring 620 sq. yards in Phase-II, Gujranwala Cantt. This plot was purchased by the Petitioner for Rs.4.7 Million in the year 2006 (even before he took oath as a Judge of the Lahore High Court).

He, thereafter, constructed a double storey house on that plot. The plot along with the superstructure was sold for Rs.60 Million in 2021 i.e., after 15 years. The sale consideration was received through two pay orders No. 111246 (Rs. 25 Million) and 111248 (Rs. 30 Million). Rs. 5 Million was received in cash. The entire sale consideration was deposited in the Petitioner's official salary account. The amounts are reflected in the bank statement issued on 30.03.2021.”

Regarding the allegations on his sons, Justice Naqvi contended that his sons are foreign qualified practicing lawyers in Lahore. “They are law-abiding citizens and registered taxpayers. They are not financially or otherwise dependent on the Petitioner. They have been advising the owner of Capital Smart City and Lahore Smart City, Zahid Rafique on various legal matters. Their professional relationship with Zahid Rafique, however, has nothing to do with the Petitioner.”

Regarding plots in Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation Islamabad, Justice Naqvi stated that the SJC, with great respect, did not examine the veracity of the allegations against him.

“The Petitioner is a registered member of the Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation ("FGEHF"). Many other Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are also members of FGEHF. Like many other Judges the Petitioner was allotted plots by FGEHF through a ballot. The plots were offered by FGEHF on instalments. The Petitioner has only paid a few instalments so far, as per the prescribed schedule of FGEHF.”

Justice Naqvi in his petition stated that the complaints against him are politically motivated due to the verdict on the Punjab elections taken after the suo motu proceedings initiated by former chief justice Umar Ata Bandial during the hearing of the Ghulam Mehmood Dogar case.

The judge further contends that the Shehbaz Sharif-led federal government wanted to delay the polls and his cabinet later started a “malicious campaign” against him. He also contended that the Pakistan Bar Council and other organisations or lawyers met with then-PM and after that, they started “targeting” him.

“It is evident that the so-called complaints filed against the Petitioner before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) are politically motivated. These were filed simply because the Petitioner in performance of his solemn duty to protect and safeguard the Constitution highlighted the constitutional violation in delaying general election to the Punjab Provincial Assembly,” said the plea.

In the petition, the SC judge has contended that the revised notice was sent to him by the SJC “without first determining the veracity of the so-called complaints and/or bona fide of the so-called complainants” contrary to the rules.

“The Revised show cause notice is also contrary to the consistent practice followed by the SJC. When proceedings of the SJC are challenged before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the SJC has not proceeded with the matter further till the matter is decided by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. This procedure was followed in the case of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Qazi Faez Isa, now Chief Justice of Pakistan. In view of this practice, the Petitioner sought stay of the proceedings of SJC vide application dated 22.11.2023. No order has been passed on this application,” said the petition.

The judge has prayed to the court: “Declare that the initiation of proceedings by the SJC are coram non judice, without lawful authority and of no legal effect and quash the same; (ii) Declare that the purported Revised SCN dated 24.11.2023 is without lawful authority and of no legal effect and quash the same; (iii) Grant any other relief that this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper.”

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