ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), which is seized with references against two superior court judges, has sent two show-cause notices to Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court.
The first notice has been issued in connection with the presidential reference instituted by the law minister in which Justice Isa has been accused of possessing properties in the United Kingdom in the name of his wife and children. The second notice has been issued on another reference filed by a lawyer from Lahore over the judge’s act of writing two letters to President Dr Arif Alvi.
A source privy to the development told Dawn that the decision to issue the show-cause notices was made during the SJC’s last meeting on July 12 when Attorney General Anwar Mansoor appeared before the council to convince it about reasons why the government had moved the references against two superior court judges.
Judge asked to furnish replies within fortnight
Justice Isa, who received the notices on Wednesday, has been asked to furnish his replies within a fortnight. The next hearing of the SJC is expected after the expiry of the 14-day period.
In the second reference filed by Waheed Shahzad Butt under Article 209 of the Constitution, Justice Isa has been accused of violating the Code of Conduct for judges by writing letters to President Alvi.
In his second letter, spread over eight pages, Justice Isa had wondered whether Prime Minister Imran Khan had disclosed in all his tax returns the properties owned by his wives and children. If the prime minister did not do so, he had surely not advised the president to submit the reference, he added.
The judge regretted that due process and (principles of) fair trial and constitutional protection to judges had been violated even before the council issued any notice.
Justice Isa complained that he and his family had been maliciously maligned by half-truths and innuendoes by government functionaries, which was distressing.
If the objective was to invade the private lives and create intrigue by violating the privacy, then why was the whole truth withheld, the letter raised the question, adding that the judge was compelled to disclose facts with a view to exposing false reports.
Justice Isa stated that the government sleuths surely knew that after completing their education, both of his children worked in London and three properties in question were those in which they lived with their spouses. He said that those in whose names the properties were owned the properties and no attempt was ever made to conceal their ownership. The properties were never held under trust, nor were a special purpose vehicle or offshore companies ever created, the letter stated.
Therefore, it contended that Justice Isa was not under any obligation to disclose his finances/financials, but did so voluntarily because doubts had been cast on his integrity. The letter stated that the judge was fully compliant with the taxation regime and had never received any notice in respect of the properties nor with regard to his wife and children.
Once he joined legal profession, he started filling out the requisite returns and paid the applicable income tax, Justice Isa said, adding that there was neither any outstanding demand of the income tax department nor any income tax proceedings pending against him.
However, the second reference pleads that the judge has committed a gross misconduct by writing the letters and then allegedly sharing it to the media and thus he is liable to be removed on the recommendation of the SJC.
By choosing a public forum for voicing his personal and subjective views and opinions, the judge has denounced the judiciary as a whole, targeted the chief executive (prime minister) of the country and used offensive language to criticise the matter, the second reference alleges.
Thus by levelling allegations publicly without substantiating the same, the judge has violated different articles of the Code of Conduct for judges, it alleges.
Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2019