Text of Chief Justice’s statement to SJC

 Following is the full text of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhamamd Chuadhry’s reply to the charges against him brought before the Supreme Judicial Council.

“Reference before the Supreme Judicial Council (constituted against the provisions of Article 209 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan) (Application for obtaining copies of documents/evidence and raising objection on the constitutionality of the SJC)

The above noted reference came up for hearing on March 9, 2007 after 6pm in indecent haste, as is evident from news published in daily Nawa-i-Waqt dated March 10, 2007, where it has been published that the chief justices of Lahore and Karachi were brought to Islamabad in a special flight.

The SJC, on having gone through the record, passed an order detrimental against my interest and against the interests of the institution whereby I have been restrained to work as a Supreme Court judge and chief justice of Pakistan. Such powers are not available at all to a fact finding inquiry commission/council as such powers are available to courts and my understanding of the Constitution under Article 209 is that no such powers are available to the council as it is not in exercise the power of the court.

Be that as it may, by passing the restraining order, the council, as well as the earlier order notified in notification no 529/(2)/2007 issued by the president of Pakistan, which is equally contrary to the Constitution, I have suffered as under:

[I have been] detained for all intents and purposes with my family members including my infant child of seven years from the evening of March 9, 2007, up till now. My official residence is besieged by heavy contingents comprising police and members of other agencies, for which there is no justification.

The vehicles which were in my use have been taken away by means of a lifter, out of which one has been brought back by a lifter without its keys.

The Supreme Court staff attached with me is reportedly missing and has been kept at an unknown place. I believe that they have been detained just to fabricate evidence against me. I have also learned reliably that my chamber was sealed and reportedly files lying there have been removed and some of them have been handed over to the ISI under the supervision of the newly appointed registrar. Such an act is contrary to all norms and practices. I, being the CJP, am entitled to occupy my chamber along with my staff.

On account of deployment of heavy contingents I am not allowed to go outside, nor are my family members allowed to do so. Similarly, no one is allowed to meet me freely, in as much as my colleagues have no access to me and whenever they want to visit me they have to wait at the gate for a considerable period during which permission is sought from high ups. Example of Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed can be quoted as on one occasion he had to go back without meeting me. Similar treatment was offered to Justice (r) Munir A Sheikh.

My children are not allowed to go to school, college and university. I am not getting facility of telephones, cable and DSL. Similarly, I along with my family members have been deprived of basic amenities of life, i.e., medicines and doctors, etc.

No panel of lawyers is available to discuss the legal and factual issues involved in this reference. This fact I have already highlighted in the notice received on March 10, 2007.

By noting the above agencies which are being suffered by me I do not want to seek any relief from the council except that an unconstitutional order dated March 9, 2007, passed by the council, has persuaded me to show distrust on the formation of the council because of the manner in which I have been dealt with. I do not expect a fair inquiry, particularly for the following reasons with reference to the chairman and two other members.

Justice Javed Iqbal:

He has been appointed as acting chief justice contrary to Article 180 of the Constitution of the Islamic republic of Pakistan, which provides that the acting chief justice can be appointed when the office of the chief justice of Pakistan is vacant or the chief justice of Pakistan is absent or is unable to perform the functions of his office due to any other cause. The cause could be that the chief justice is incapable of properly performing the duties of his office by a reason of physical or mental incapacity, which is not the case over here. Therefore, he should not have taken the oath of the office of the acting chief justice, not withstanding that whosoever has issued his notification.

As per the mandate of Article 209 of the Constitution, if a reference is to be heard against the chief justice of Pakistan, the judge of the Supreme Court who is next in seniority would head the council but without being appointed as acting chief justice.

Justice Rana Bhagwandas is admittedly the senior most judge, therefore, on account of his temporary absence from the country up to March 22, 2007, there was no urgency to convene the meeting of the SJC at night/after office hours and by ensuring presence of two chief justices by making arrangements for a ‘special plane’. Such actions on his part speak volumes as it has been reported in international ‘The News’, an extract of which is appended here as annex-B.

Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar: He administered oath to Justice Javed Iqbal on March 9, 2007, for the office of acting chief justice, disqualifying himself from being a judge of the Supreme Court knowing well that the office of the chief justice is not vacant as he is not incapable of performing his duties physically or mentally.

A reference/complaint is pending against him before the SJC in respect of financial misappropriation in the Shah Latif Bhatai University Khairpur along with the vice chancellor of the university. The reference is lying in the SJC record which was in the custody of Doctor Faqir Hussain.

Justice Iftikhar Hussain Chaudhry: More than one reference of misconduct, etc, are pending against him before the SJC. The chairman is fully aware about it as files are lying in his custody for the purpose of scrutiny, therefore he cannot sit as a member of the council. His inclusion is based on malafides because the chairman, knowing about these facts, may have not notified him as member of council.

He has developed strong hostilities against me which is known to everyone on account of my not accepting his recommendations of advocates and judicial officers for elevation as judges of the Lahore High Court.

His elevation to judge of the Supreme Court was opposed by me in August 2005 for a very important reason, which cannot be disclosed here. However, this letter is available in the record, which may be looked into, and if it has been misplaced/tampered, as reportedly all files from my chambers have been removed, the copy of the same may be requisitioned from the concerned office.

I may point out that we are not even on talking terms with each other. He himself disconnected all relations including the working one.

He is otherwise interested in the positive result of the inquiry sent by the president on the advice of the prime minister because one his brothers is a minister in the cabinet of the prime minister and he has been expressing his views in favour of the reference and against me on TV channels (reportedly).

Therefore, I have serious objections to his being a member of the council for the above reasons and I do not have expectations of a fair inquiry from him. Thus his name should be excluded from the panel in the interest of justice and fair play.

In view of the above objections I am of the opinion that the SJC is incapable of holding an inquiry against me.

Without prejudice to the above, I reserve my right to raise any other objection at the time of submitting my reply to the charge sheet because so far no documents have been supplied to me, nor have I any facility to consult my panel of lawyers because no one has been allowed to accompany me. Therefore, I may be supplied a précis of oral evidence and documentary evidence.

I will be submitting a list of documents in support of my defence which shall be summoned by the SJC as I have no access.

Public inquiry

The contents of the notice indicates an in-camera inquiry but I am of the opinion that the charges against me are not sustainable, being unfounded. Therefore, to vindicate my honour, I would prefer a public inquiry, so the whole world may know the nature of the allegations, and I am confident that I will be exonerated of the charges if a fair inquiry is allowed. As for as rule 13 on conducting inquiries is concerned, it pertains to an inquiry of which a direct complaint has been received by the SJC and powers are to be exercised by the council under Article 209 (5), but in my opinion, for the reference received from the president of Pakistan, the SJC can follow any other procedure including a public inquiry.

The necessity of a public inquiry is also called for because the reference is based in letter and spirit on an open letter written by Naeem Bokhari which has already been publicised widely. Therefore, there should not be any objection/observation in holding a public inquiry. As a question of my and the institution’s prestige is involved, therefore I volunteer for an open inquiry so the public of this country may have more respect and confidence in the institution of the higher judiciary.

Thus for the above reasons the council may be reconstituted accordingly, excluding the members in respect of whom objections have been raised here, and to negate the impression nationwide and to save the country’s image internationally that this is a one-sided, biased, dummy and command performance.

The copies of requisite document be supplied to me along with the SJC.

A panel of the lawyers ready to defend me and the judicial system of this nation is present outside the court building since they are not being allowed to enter in the court premises, against all norms and ethics, as well as the principle of access to justice and justice for all. Therefore, lawyers should be allowed inside to argue these. At the end I say that the order dated March 9, 2007, restraining me from functioning as a judge of the Supreme Court and the chief justice of Pakistan be recalled, being contrary to the provisions of the constitution.

 Source: Daily Times

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