Suspended Pakistan judge challenges presidential reference
Apr 19, 2007 - 1:54:06 PM

Islamabad, April 19 - Pakistan's suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry has cited President Pervez Musharraf as a respondent before the Supreme Court while challenging the competence of the Supreme Judicial Council - to try him for misuse of office.

Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, Chaudhry's principal counsel, told The Nation: 'SJC does not have the authority to hear the reference against chief justice. Only a full-member bench, including all the judges of the Supreme Court, can hear such a reference.'

A three-judge bench of the apex court is hearing the petition under Article 184 - of the constitution, challenging SJC's composition and the procedure it is following.

Ahsan has submitted a 200-page petition on behalf of the chief justice, citing Musharraf as a respondent and raising 'as many as 132 questions of great public importance, which need to be settled by the Supreme Court in exercise of its original jurisdiction', media reports said Thursday.

The petitioner maintains that the jurisdiction, proceedings and composition of SJC is unconstitutional without the chief justice, and the acting chief justice cannot be the head of SJC.

The apex court Wednesday adjourned to Thursday the hearing on his petition even as lawyers across the country continued protesting outside the courts.

A Musharraf supporter was severely beaten by lawyers and women activists of the Pakistan Muslim League - of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif in front of the Supreme Court building while the hearing on the presidential reference was on, The News reported.

Rana Abdul Hakeem, a functionary of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Qaid -, who was standing in front of apex court with a large poster of Musharraf and raising slogans, was grabbed and thrashed by women activists of PML-N.

Meanwhile, the SJC, comprising Acting Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas, Justices Javed Iqbal and Abdul Hameed Dogor as well as Chief Justice of the Punjab High Court Justice Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudhry and Sindh High Court Chief Justice Sabhiud Din Ahmed heard the presidential reference.

It adjourned its proceedings till Tuesday.

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