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Justice Isa to challenge presidential references in SC

Updated August 07, 2019

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Justice Qazi Faez Isa is expected to challenge in the Supreme Court, in a day or two, the references filed against him in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on misconduct. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File
Justice Qazi Faez Isa is expected to challenge in the Supreme Court, in a day or two, the references filed against him in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on misconduct. — Photo courtesy Supreme Court website/File

ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa is expected to challenge in the Supreme Court, in a day or two, the references filed against him in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on misconduct.

Advocate Munir A. Malik, former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and one of the members of the league that had spearheaded the epic 2007 lawyers’ movement, is in the capital busy drafting the petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution in a similar fashion as was done by former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry when a reference on misconduct had been filed in the SJC to remove him in 2007. The same practice was followed by other former judges of the high court, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Farrukh Irfan Khan, seeking their trial in the open court.

Justice Isa is likely to appear in person to submit the petition questioning the filing of the references against him — one by the president through the federal government and the other by a lawyer.

Besides Justice Isa, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and the SCBA may also challenge the references in the apex court this week. Senior counsel Rasheed A. Razvi may file a petition on behalf of the SCBA on Saturday.

Former SCBA president Munir Malik drafting petition under Article 184(3) in similar fashion as done by ex-CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry

The idea to move such petitions under Article 184(3) of the Constitution was proposed by three senior members of the PBC through a resolution in the form of a letter to the council’s secretary by former SCBA presidents Rasheed Razvi and Kamran Murtaza and PBC executive committee’s former chairman Akhtar Hussain, on July 30.

The resolution had stated that the legal fraternity was of unanimous view that the government was bent upon subduing the independent judiciary since it had filed the references against upright, honest and competent judges of superior courts. If this practice went unchecked and unopposed, there was a likelihood that the government might continue to attack the judiciary to achieve its “ulterior motives and designs”, it said.

The resolution recalled that the bar had always struggled for the supremacy of the Constitution, the rule of law and the judiciary’s independence, rendering great sacrifices for these cherished objectives.

The SJC had issued two show-cause notices to Justice Isa — the first in response to the presidential reference which was instituted by the law minister for possessing properties in the United Kingdom in the name of wife and children, and the second on a reference filed by a lawyer from Lahore for addressing two letters to President Dr Arif Alvi.

The decision to issue the show-cause notices was taken during the council’s last sitting on July 12 when Attorney General Anwar Mansoor had appeared before it to explain why the government had moved the references against two superior court judges.

Justice Isa, who had received the notices on July 17, was asked to furnish his replies in a fortnight. He has already requested the SJC to extend the period and also make public his earlier response to the council since allegations against him are already known to people.

Earlier, a number of lawyers had also suggested to Justice Isa to challenge the references in the Supreme Court under Article 184(3) of the Constitution by relying on the precedence set by former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry since the references against him had been moved with mala fide intention.

The second reference against Justice Isa was filed in the SJC by Advocate Waheed Shahzad Butt under Article 209 of the Constitution for allegedly violating the code of conduct for judges by writing two letters to President Alvi.

In his second letter to the president, Justice Isa wondered whether the prime minister 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, the judge stated in the letter, regretting that due process and fair trial and constitutional protection to judges had been violated even before the SJC issued any notice.

Justice Isa had complained in his second letter to the president that he and his family had been maliciously maligned by half-truths and innuendoes by members of the government, which was deeply distressing.

On the call of the PBC, all the provincial bar councils, SCBA, the high court, district and tehsil/taluka bar associations have been agitating against the filing of references against the superior court judges and even organised lawyers’ conventions in the federal capital as well as some of the provincial capitals.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2019