ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court decided on Wednesday that procedures launched by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) cannot be terminated, even if a judge resigns.

A five-member bigger bench, led by Justice Amin-ud-din Khan, released the brief ruling and partially accepted the federal government’s intra-court appeal (ICA) against its 2023 judgment in Afia Sheharbano Zia’s case.
The court also featured Justices Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Hassan Azhar Rizvi, Musarrat Hilali, and Irfan Saadat Khan.

In Afia Sheharbano Zia’s case, the Supreme Court ruled that judges who retire or resign are not subject to Article 209 of the Constitution, which governs misbehavior of superior court judges.

In a brief decision issued today, the Supreme Court held that it is up to the SJC to proceed against a judge in a pending case.

Four of the five justices on the bench ruled the ICA viable, although Justice Rizvi disagreed with the majority ruling to the point that the appeal was time-barred.

The Supreme Court stated that the precise grounds for the ruling would be revealed later.

The federation, through the secretary of law and justice, filed the ICA with the Supreme Court under Section 5 of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 in conjunction with Article 184(3) of the Constitution, challenging the June 27, 2023 ruling in Afia Sheharbano’s case.

After authorizing the current ICA, the federal government petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the challenged verdict.

It was further urged that a judge against whom procedures were commenced under Article 209 of the Constitution be proceeded against, and that his departure would not result in the cessation of such proceedings.

It is worth noting that the need to challenge the judgment in Afia Sheharbano was bolstered by the resignation of Sayyed Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, a Supreme Court judge, while the SJC is investigating misconduct complaints filed by various lawyers and the Pakistan Bar Council.

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