ISLAMABAD: Attorney General Anwar Mansoor appeared before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Friday to explain why the government had moved the references against two superior court judges.
He also furnished a reply on behalf of the government to rebut the stand taken by Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court against the allegations levelled in the presidential reference. The attorney general argued for about 90 minutes before the SJC which met for a third time.
On July 5, the SJC had asked Mr Mansoor to come up with replies to the written submissions furnished by Justice Isa and Justice K.K. Agha of the Sindh High Court against the allegations made by the government in the presidential references.
The five-judge SJC consisting of Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh and Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth is hearing the references against Justice Isa and Justice Agha for allegedly possessing properties in the United Kingdom.
Like earlier SJC sessions, representatives of different bar councils and bar associations staged protest demonstrations on the Supreme Court premises and chanted slogans against the government and in favour of independence of the judiciary and rule of law and the Constitution.
At the last hearing on July 2, the SJC held a brief session in which the attorney general was not summoned. It is believed that the council during the hearing had token up the written replies filed by the judges to rebut the allegations levelled against them by the government.
On June 14, the SJC in its first preliminary hearing had provided the contents of the references to the two judges with a directive for them to volunteer and clarify their position on the allegations levelled against them. However, none of the judges had been issued any formal show-cause notice under the Supreme Judicial Council Procedure of Enquiry 2005. The judges were provided the opportunity to volunteer their responses to the allegations under Section 8(3) of the enquiry rules.
The section suggests that if the council is of the view that before forming an opinion it should also hear the judge under the enquiry, it will require the accused judge to present himself before the council, which will provide him the information and the material received against him.
On Friday, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Syed Amjad Shah, senior member Hamid Khan, former Supreme Court Bar Association presidents Ali Ahmed Kurd and Yasin Azad and other leaders of lawyers demanded that the council inform the nation about the proceedings against the judges.
Talking to the media, they said the lawyers’ community would never compromise on the matter since it involved independence of the judiciary and the rule of law and demanded that the references be quashed immediately. “We do not want any situation which leads us to any deadlock,” they said, adding that the references reflected mala fide intention of the government and, therefore, these should be rejected immediately.
The PBC has already called a convention on Saturday to protest the filing of the references by the government. It will be at the office of the Peshawar High Court Bar Association.
The lawyers’ leaders said the convention would also deliberate on the functioning of vigilance committees formed during a joint meeting of the representatives of bar councils and bar associations for gathering information regarding inefficiency or incompetency of a sitting judge or any judge with the reputation of being corrupt.
They said the lawyers would also hold protests throughout the country on July 13.
Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2019