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Pakistan high court forms panel to consider Chaudhry legal challenge

[JURIST] The Pakistan Supreme Court [official website] Tuesday created a panel of judges to hear a legal challenge [PDF petition] by suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive] to the proceedings against him for alleged misconduct. Pakistan's Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) [governing constitutional provisions] had been conducting an inquiry into Chaudhry's alleged misconduct, but Chaudhry appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the SJC lacked competence to try him. The investigation was suspended [JURIST report] Monday, pending a resolution to the appeal. Acting Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas Tuesday assembled a roster that included most of the 19 judges on the Supreme Court to hear Chaudhry's challenge.

Chaudhry was technically made "non-functional" [JURIST report] by a March 9 order of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. No specifics were provided at the time of his suspension but documents subsequently disclosed [JURIST report] suggest he was officially removed on suspicion of misusing his influence to get his son jobs and promotions. Lawyers and opposition leaders critical of the move say, however, that the suspension was an assault on the independence of the country's judiciary and an indirect bid by Musharraf to continue his eight-year rule in an election year. Reuters has more.

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