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SJC refuses to call ex-CJP in reference against LHC judge

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), hearing a complaint against Justice Muhammad Farrukh Irfan Khan of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday, refused to summon former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry as a witness.

A request was made by senior counsel Hamid Khan, who is defending the sitting judge, to call the former chief justice to testify the affidavit he had filed before the five-judge SJC.

The reference was filed against Justice Khan when his name surfaced in the list of the people having offshore properties abroad. He was also accused of indulging in money laundering and issued a show-cause notice by the council in February 2017.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, who heads the council, rejected the plea raised by the counsel by saying that the SJC would not summon retired judges, but the counsel could ask his witness to appear before the forum on his own.

Reference involves LHC judge who is accused of owning offshore companies, money laundering

In his affidavit, Justice Chaudhry has defended Justice Khan by saying that he did not receive any complaint against him from any person, bar, judge or the chief justice of the Lahore High Court during his tenure as the chief justice of Pakistan, and that the sitting judge was not short-tempered or disrespectful to lawyers, litigants or government officials.

On the contrary, the former CJP said, during his tenure as judge of the high court, Justice Khan conducted himself with the highest dignity and his elevation and working as a judge added to the respect and decorum of the institution.

Justice Khan, he said, had a good reputation among his brother judges, lawyers and litigants as an upright, honest, hard-working and dedicated judge.

Justice Chaudhry has contended that he nominated and elevated Justice Khan due to his vast legal and international experience and also because he was an honest and upright citizen. Moreover, Justice Khan was a successful lawyer both in Pakistan and at international forums.

The former CJP said that Justice Khan told him about his practice in the United Arab Emirates and fact of owning properties and that he was working in the boards of different charitable organisations before his elevation.

On his request, Justice Chaudhry recalled, Justice Khan joined the judiciary and started the process of disassociating himself from all other engagements and family businesses.

Testifying on Tuesday, advocate Shehzad Shaukat, who knows Justice Khan since childhood and studied with him in the same secondary school and Punjab University Law College, Lahore, said that Nazar Mohammad Chauhan — the complainant — also studied in the same school.

Mr Shaukat said the allegations levelled by the complainant were misconceived and not worth the paper they were written on. He contended that the complainant had been removed from the civil service and that he “defames Pakistan, its judiciary and its people through his internet blogs”.

The lawyer said that he was familiar with the fact that the family of Justice Khan was one of the leading business families of Pakistan and that his brothers and cousins were successful business people.

The lawyers of the country respected Justice Khan earlier as a thorough professional lawyer and now as a knowledgeable, bold, pleasant and upright high court judge, he added.

The SJC will resume the proceedings on Wednesday again.

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