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“CJP Faez Isa seeks Supreme Judicial Council’s perspective on complaints against judges”

A Colour image featuring Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa addressing the Second Law-Bridge Workshop on Superior Court Reporting. He is seen speaking at a podium in the Asma Jehangir Auditorium.

ISLAMABAD: In a recent revelation, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa disclosed that he has sought opinions on complaints against 100 superior court judges currently pending before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). The CJP, speaking at the Second Law-Bridge Workshop on Superior Court Reporting, highlighted the significance of transparency in judicial affairs and the need for accountability.

Delving into Judicial Accountability

Though the CJP refrained from naming specific judges, he expressed his commitment to addressing complaints of misconduct within the judiciary. Legal experts speculate that the sheer magnitude of the 100 complaints encompasses a broad spectrum of judges, including those from the Supreme Court and high courts, some of whom may have retired.

The Supreme Judicial Council’s Role

The present composition of the SJC includes CJP Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Naeem Akhtar Afghan, and Chief Justice Lahore High Court Muhammad Ameer Bhatti. The CJP has forwarded these complaints to senior members of the SJC for thorough consideration and opinions.

Transparency as the Best Disinfectant

In a symbolic move, Chief Justice Isa launched the Supreme Court of Pakistan Quarterly Report during the workshop. He cited the popular saying among US jurists, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” underscoring the importance of transparency. Article 19-A of the Constitution grants the public the fundamental right to information, holding those funded by the public exchequer accountable.

SJC’s Accountability Process

The SJC follows the 2005 Rules of Procedure of Enquiry, where received complaints undergo initial scrutiny before formal proceedings. The chairman refers the complaints to council members to ascertain their viability. If deemed fit for inquiry, the SJC proceeds accordingly.

Accountability Measures Undertaken

Chief Justice Isa highlighted that the SJC, mandated under Article 209, had not convened since July 2021, resulting in a backlog of complaints. In response, a meeting was convened on Oct 27, 2023, where 29 complaints were considered. Out of these, 19 were dismissed, and 11 cases proceeded, including 10 against the now-resigned Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and one against Justice Masood.

Judicial Workload and Pendency

The Quarterly Report covered the period from Sept 17 to Dec 16, 2023, revealing that 4,466 cases were instituted, 5,305 were disposed of, and 55,644 remained pending by the latter date. The rising pendency remains a concern for the public, emphasizing the need for efficient judicial processes.

Freedom of Expression: A Necessity

Justice Athar Minallah joined the discourse, emphasizing the importance of freedom of expression. He recalled instances of unwarranted criticism he faced, urging critics to maintain faith in the judicial system. Justice Minallah stressed the need for a balance between criticism and trust in the legal system.

Challenges to Freedom of Expression

Reflecting on history, Justice Minallah highlighted the attack on freedom of expression, citing the blackout of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Aug 11, 1947, speech. He lamented that when politicians become vulnerable, the entire system often turns against them, subjecting them to media trials before court verdicts.

In conclusion, the Chief Justice and his colleagues are navigating a landscape of accountability, transparency, and the delicate balance between criticism and trust in the judicial system. The call for judicial reform and safeguarding freedom of expression echoes through the hallowed halls of Pakistan’s judiciary.

ISLAMABAD: In a recent revelation, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa disclosed that he has sought opinions on complaints against 100 superior court judges currently pending before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). The CJP, speaking at the Second Law-Bridge Workshop on Superior Court Reporting, highlighted the significance of transparency in judicial affairs and the need for accountability.

Delving into Judicial Accountability

Though the CJP refrained from naming specific judges, he expressed his commitment to addressing complaints of misconduct within the judiciary. Legal experts speculate that the sheer magnitude of the 100 complaints encompasses a broad spectrum of judges, including those from the Supreme Court and high courts, some of whom may have retired.

The Supreme Judicial Council’s Role

The present composition of the SJC includes CJP Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Naeem Akhtar Afghan, and Chief Justice Lahore High Court Muhammad Ameer Bhatti. The CJP has forwarded these complaints to senior members of the SJC for thorough consideration and opinions.

Transparency as the Best Disinfectant

In a symbolic move, Chief Justice Isa launched the Supreme Court of Pakistan Quarterly Report during the workshop. He cited the popular saying among US jurists, “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” underscoring the importance of transparency. Article 19-A of the Constitution grants the public the fundamental right to information, holding those funded by the public exchequer accountable.

SJC’s Accountability Process

The SJC follows the 2005 Rules of Procedure of Enquiry, where received complaints undergo initial scrutiny before formal proceedings. The chairman refers the complaints to council members to ascertain their viability. If deemed fit for inquiry, the SJC proceeds accordingly.

Accountability Measures Undertaken

Chief Justice Isa highlighted that the SJC, mandated under Article 209, had not convened since July 2021, resulting in a backlog of complaints. In response, a meeting was convened on Oct 27, 2023, where 29 complaints were considered. Out of these, 19 were dismissed, and 11 cases proceeded, including 10 against the now-resigned Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and one against Justice Masood.

Judicial Workload and Pendency

The Quarterly Report covered the period from Sept 17 to Dec 16, 2023, revealing that 4,466 cases were instituted, 5,305 were disposed of, and 55,644 remained pending by the latter date. The rising pendency remains a concern for the public, emphasizing the need for efficient judicial processes.

Freedom of Expression: A Necessity

Justice Athar Minallah joined the discourse, emphasizing the importance of freedom of expression. He recalled instances of unwarranted criticism he faced, urging critics to maintain faith in the judicial system. Justice Minallah stressed the need for a balance between criticism and trust in the legal system.

Challenges to Freedom of Expression

Reflecting on history, Justice Minallah highlighted the attack on freedom of expression, citing the blackout of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s Aug 11, 1947, speech. He lamented that when politicians become vulnerable, the entire system often turns against them, subjecting them to media trials before court verdicts.

In conclusion, the Chief Justice and his colleagues are navigating a landscape of accountability, transparency, and the delicate balance between criticism and trust in the judicial system. The call for judicial reform and safeguarding freedom of expression echoes through the hallowed halls of Pakistan’s judiciary.

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