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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pakistan's Top Justice Put On Leave Amid Violence

ReutersA Pakistani lawyer throwing a tear gas shell in Lahore, Pakistan, on Saturday.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- The chief judge of Pakistan's Supreme Court has been put on compulsory leave because of allegations against him, a Pakistani Cabinet minister said Sunday.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who defended on Saturday his controversial decision to remove the judge, has faced a growing crisis since March 9, when he suspended Supreme Court chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry over unspecified allegations that the judge had abused his authority.

Pakistan's law, justice and human rights minister, Wasi Zafar said the measure was taken against Chaudhry under a law requiring judges facing complaints to be sent on leave.

"Whenever a reference is pending against any judge, he can be sent on compulsory leave," Zafar said.

Chaudhry faces proceedings at the Supreme Judicial Council, a top panel of judges that handles complaints of wrongdoing in the higher judiciary.

Zafar would not specify what complaints Chaudhry faces, citing the ongoing proceedings at the council, which is scheduled to resume hearings Wednesday.

Chaudhry's removal has angered many lawyers, retired judges and opposition leaders, who consider Musharraf's action an effort to remove a strong-willed judge ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections due within a year. The measure triggered violent protests Friday and Saturday.

Musharraf is likely to seek re-election from the outgoing assembly, and has given no indication that he is willing to accept opposition demands that he give up his post as chief of the army. His stance is likely to draw complaints to the Supreme Court.