ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday declared the forced retirement of 13 judges of the lower courts of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa as null and void. A three-member of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed conducted hearing of 13 judges of KP subordinate courts and referred the matter back to judicial service tribunal with the direction to decide the cases of adverse Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) of the removed judges in three months.

In April 2017, Justice Yahya Afridi as the Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court had sacked 13 judicial officers including a District and Sessions judge and seven additional district and sessions judge for indiscipline.

During the hearing, Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that the Judicial Tribunal also required examining the increase of assets of the sacked judges. He noted that Judge Hussain Shah’s assets increased three times in two years. His assets were increased from Rs6.4 million to more than Rs35 million when he became senior civil judge.

Judge Shah Hussain’s lawyer contended that this aspect was not alleged in the show cause notice. “My client in the proforma has submitted the market value of his asset,” told the lawyer. He submitted that the assets are the same but in the proforma mentioned the market value.

Justice Ijaz questioned where it is written that the judge has to give market value of his assets. The annual reports for the last three years have been casting doubt about his performance.

The lawyer argued that the Tribunal had so far passed the short order. He said that his appeal is lying before the apex court against the Peshawar High Court committee.

The PHC concerned committee had dismissed 13 judges, while the judicial tribunal had turned them into forced retirement. The judges had filed the appeal against the Tribunal decision.

The judges were issued show cause notices over violation of disciplinary laws and also given an opportunity of hearing before the administration committee of the court. After finding 13 judicial officers guilty of the charge, the chief justice with the concurrence of the administration committee has imposed upon them major penalty of removal from service.

In 2017, it said, 13 judicial officers, who earned adverse Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) for consecutive three years and having a persistent reputation of being corrupt, were also dismissed from the service by adopting the same method. The PHC had maintained that the judges were sacked due to consecutive three years adverse and having a persistent reputation of being corrupt.