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Reference for ‘serious misconduct’ filed against CJP Bandial-led larger bench hearing SC bill

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  • 10-page reference filed by Lawyer Mian Dawood.
  • Says these judges acted in violation of Article 209 of Constitution.
  • Lawyer urges SJC tp “urgently” inquire actions of CJP Bandial.

ISLAMABAD: A day after an eight-member larger bench of the Supreme Court began hearing the petitions challenging a bill seeking to curtail the powers of the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP), Lawyer Mian Dawood filed a reference against the judges.

The reference was filed by the same lawyer who earlier registered a complaint against Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi.

In a 10-page reference filed before the Supreme Judicial Council, the complainant accused CJP Umar Ata Bandial and seven other judges of being guilty of “serious misconduct” under Articles III, IV, V VI, and IX of the code of conduct.

It should be noted that the eight-member SC bench has been facing constant criticism since its formation two days ago with the coalition government rejecting the larger bench, claiming it to be “controversial” as it is a “testament to the division of the apex court”.

He wrote: “I am placing before the Council the misconduct on part of the following 8 Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan”:

  • Justice Umar Ata Bandial
  • Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan
  • Justice Munib Akhtar
  • Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi
  • Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar
  • Justice Ayesha Malik
  • Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi
  • Justice Shahid Waheed

He claimed that these judges have consistently acted in violation of Article 209 of the Constitution and the Code of Conduct to be observed by judges of the Supreme Court and of the high courts, as issued by the Supreme Judicial Council.

Advocate Dawood wrote that CJP and the seven judges have “consistently and blatantly” violated the following “golden rules” of judicial conduct:

  • Article III — Keeping a judge’s conduct in all things, official and private, free from impropriety;
  • Article IV — enshrine the rule against bias and conflict of interest either direct or indirect;
  • Article V — ensuring that justice is not only done but is also seen to be done;
  • Article VI — counsel against engaging in public controversy, least of all on a political question
  • Article IX — non-employment of the influence of a judge’s position to gain undue advantage, whether immediate or future and maintenance of harmony within his own court, as well as among all courts and for the integrity of the institution of justice.

“They have violated Article 209 (5) of the Constitution, ie, when a judge becomes incapable of performing his judicial function or is found to be guilty of misconduct,” the complainant wrote.

Lawyer Dawood alleged that Justice Bandial’s misconduct is three-fold, that is:

  • Firstly, he fixed the petition in his self-interest the bill was aimed to structure his own absolute powers
  • Secondly, he himself presided over the bench hearing the matters; thereby, violating all rules of propriety and administration of justice
  • Thirdly, the chief justice-led bench passed an “obviously glaring illegal, unconstitutional and mala fide order and anticipatory order.”

Lawyer Dawood accused the “four future chief justice”, including Justice Ahsan, Justice Akhtar, Justice Malik, and Justice Waheed, of the same charges pressed against CJP Bandial.

Meanwhile, he alleged that the “3rd category of justices” — including Justice Naqvi, Justice Mazhar, and Justice Rizvi — are also guilty of the same offence along with “being incompetent and for making themselves part of a partisan power grab by the Chief Justices and for being part of quid pro quo arrangement with the Chief Justice. They all were elevated out of turn, in violation of seniority principles.”

Dawood further claimed that CJP Bandial has engaged in “judicial and administrative misconduct” by refusing to probe allegations against Justice Naqvi and also by announcing in open court that “he was giving a ‘silent message’, by including Justice Naqvi on the bench with him, instead of initiating proceedings against the judge.”

Last month the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) filed a reference against Justice Naqvi in the Supreme Judicial Council for “misconduct” after his name surfaced in connection with the audio leaks purportedly involving him, former Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi and others.

“CJ pre-judges the references, declared Justice Naqvi to be innocent and impliedly threatened to proceed against the complainant(s),” he wrote, adding that the “bias of CJP is quite evident”.

The lawyer accused CJP Bandial of being involved in “bench-fixing, in order to favour certain political parties”.

“Chief Justice Bandial has been actively involved disregarding the seniority principle in elevation of the judges of the High Court to the Supreme Court in violation of the Constitution and well-established constitutional convention/practice as well as the law laid down by the apex court in the 1996 Al Jehad Trust and the 1998 Malik Asad Ali case. It is imperative that the actions of the Chief Justice Mr. Justice Umar Ata Bandial be inquired into urgently, as justice being dispensed in such a partisan and authoritarian manner leaves no room for public trust in the judiciary,” he wrote.

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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