Pakistani court bars panel from hearing judge charges
May 7, 2007 - 4:19:39 PM

Islamabad, May 7 - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Monday prevented a panel of five judges from hearing allegations of misconduct and abuse of office against suspended chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

The judge's legal representatives in April challenged the authority and constitutionality of the panel, known as the Supreme Judicial Council, to adjudicate in the controversial case against Chaudhry.

'The decision is a major victory for us. The apex court has endorsed our point of view,' Chaudhry's jubilant defence counsel, Aitzaz Ahsan, told journalists in Islamabad.

President Pervez Musharraf suspended the chief justice on March 9 and referred the case to the panel, sparking countrywide protests by the legal fraternity and opposition supporters.

Chaudhry's lawyers filed a petition against the authority of the five-member panel to hear the case, alleging that some of its members bore personal grievances against the embattled judge.

The panel had been due to hold its eighth hearing of the charges against Chaudhry on May 9.

The stay order will remain effective until the Supreme Court rules on a number of other counter-petitions relating to adjudication in Chaudhry's case.

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