ISLAMABAD -  Pending cases against judges in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for many years have raised the question if they are not accountable for allegedly violating the oath.

Advocate Col (r) Inamur Rahim in a a to the Senate chairman and chief justice of Pakistan against Lahore High Court CJ Mansoor Ali Shah has questioned if the principle of accountability has excluded (from accountability) the members of superior judiciary. He also questioned if the mechanism provided in the Article 209 of Constitution was not meant to come into operation in such a state of affairs.

“How could Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Anwar Kasi and Chief Justice Mansoor Shah, against whom references of misconduct/corruption were pending, be allowed to sit as the members of SJC to arbitrate on the honesty and integrity of their fellow judges when their own conduct was under question?” he wrote.

According to the composition, the CJP is the chair of SCJ while two senior most judges of the Supreme Court and two senior most chief justices of high courts are the members of SJC. Justice Kasi and Justice Mansoor, being the senior most chief justices of high courts, are SJC members.

Two references against the incumbent LHC CJ are pending with the SJC. One is related to suspending the Multan bench, which is the violation of constitutional provision under the Article 198 of Constitution, and the other is about a Rs850 million loan, which he has got written off.

Inam said that if a parliamentarian is disqualified under the section 99(f) of Representation of Peoples Act and Article 63 of the Constitution on charges of writing off loans and corruption then why a judge, against whom there are charges of corruption and loan written off, could not be and how can they hear cases.

“They too do not deserve to hold the office of constitutional courts.”

On October 30, 2015, former chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali while addressing the Islamabad Bar Association said: “Ninety per cent of complaints filed against judges of the superior judiciary in the SJC became outdated because the council has been inactive for the past few years and that the vast majority of references had become infructuous as most of these judges had retired after completing their terms”.

Officially, no data is available or has been released showing the ratio of complaints which have been disposed of, or cases are pending.

In the April 4, 2016 report, it is published that more than 200 complaints of misconduct against judges have been registered with the SJC since 2005, which have not been contradicted by the council. Last year, former chairman Human Rights Committee of Pakistan Bar Council Raheel Kamran Sheikh, filed a petition in the apex court for the enforcement of Articles 9, 10A and 19A of the Constitution.

He had requested the Supreme Court to direct the SJC to make public the total number of references/complaints pending before the SJC, how many cases were proceeded, how many references/complaints were dropped after consideration, how many references/complaints have become infructuous to pass such orders and how many complaints against judges of the top court and high courts were decided.

Anwar Jamali after hearing his (Barrister Raheel) appeal against the Registrar Office in his chamber dismissed it on March 10, 2016.

Barrister Raheel, on October 30, 2016, filed a petition praying to review the order passed by former Chief Justice Jamali on his appeal against the Registrar order. It has not yet been taken up since then.

Former Vice-Chairman Pakistan Bar Council Barrister Naseem said that the SJC would have to assume the role of the judicial performance commission to do away with incompetent and dishonest judges of the superior judiciary.

He said that if the judges of the superior courts even after their confirmation found lacking judicial performance, they should be shown the door under Article 209. He said that unless the incompetent and dishonest judges were removed, the dream of safeguarding and protection of fundamental rights would be lost.

Supreme Court Bar Association President Rasheed A Rizvi said that the SJC should be made active to make the administration of justice more accountable and transparent. “This will enhance the confidence of the nation in the rule of law and independence of the judiciary.”

 

 

TERENCE J SIGAMONY