ISLAMABAD - Chief Justice of Pakistan Anwar Zaheer Jamali yesterday reserved judgment on an application for expeditious disposal of references or complaints pending before the Supreme Judicial Council and provision of information regarding pending cases before it.

Advocate Muhammad Raheel Kamran Sheikh, presently chairman of Human Rights Committee of Pakistan Bar Council, appeared before the chief justice in his chamber.

Raheel shared with The Nation that he had requested Justice Jamali that neither he, being the Supreme Judicial Council chairman, nor any member of the SJC should hear his appeal. He further said it would also be improper for any judge of this august court, against whom any complaint or reference has been filed to hear and decide his appeal.

Raheel had filed a petition in the court against the SJC under Article 184(3) of the Constitution in April 2016 that the references or complaints pending before it be decided expeditiously and the judges against whom there was a prima facie case be restrained from performing judicial work.

The SC registrar office, however, returned it and termed the petition frivolous. The lawyer then filed an appeal against the registrar’s objections, which the chief justice heard it in his chamber.

Raheel contended before the CJP that he did not want disclosure of information of any SJC proceedings against a judge of a high court or the apex court, but would like to know how many references had been filed before the SJC since its establishment, how many had been decided and how many were still pending.

The Supreme Judicial Council was established under Article 209 of the Constitution to probe allegations against the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts for misconduct or inability to perform their duties for the reasons of mental or physical incapacity. It comprises Chief Justice of Pakistan, two senior-most judges of the apex court and two senior chief justices of the high courts.

Raheel stated in his petition that since its establishment the Council had barely been functional. He stated the references or complaints must be fixed for hearing before the Council within a week of their receipt and those which were not worthy of further proceedings must be rejected outright 0while others must be decided within one month.

Chief Justice Jamali, in his judicial year speech last year, said the references pending in the SJC would be disposed of expeditiously. Addressing the Islamabad Bar Council on 30-11-2015, he observed that 90 percent of complaints filed against the judges of the superior judiciary had become outdated because it had 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.

The petition said the basic information regarding total number of references under Article 209 and status of those references and complaints had not been disclosed. He said every citizen had a fundamental right to have access to information in all matters of public importance as guaranteed in Article 19-A of the Constitution.

It also said the independence of judiciary could be secured by ensuring that the process of appointments, removal, and security of tenure of judges remained independent of the executive and legislature.