Justice Isa asks SC to reject presidential reference against him

Updated August 27, 2019

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Seeks declaration that CJP, other members of SJC are no longer competent to hear the complaint. — Creative commons
Seeks declaration that CJP, other members of SJC are no longer competent to hear the complaint. — Creative commons

ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa filed in the Supreme Court on Monday applications seeking rejection of the presidential reference against him and a declaration that the chief justice of Pakistan and other members of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) were no longer competent to hear the complaint.

Justice Isa also pleaded that all the pending applications be fixed before a full court since the matter pertained to a reference against an apex court judge and as per the precedent established in the 2010 SC judgement in the former CJP Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry case.

A number of petitions have been instituted before the Supreme Court against the filing of the presidential reference in the SJC.

The applications filed by Justice Isa himself stated that he was ready to face any reference if conducted in accordance with law and propriety, but regretted that he, his wife and children had been subjected to persecution. He cited a verse from the Holy Quran declared that persecution was worse than death.

Referring to the Aug 19 SJC order rejecting a second reference instituted by Waheed Shahzad Butt against him for writing letters to President Arif Alvi, the SC judge regretted that the council had given its opinion with regard to the first [presidential] reference, even though there was no need to do so.

Seeks declaration that CJP, other members of SJC are no longer competent to hear the complaint

The applications recalled that the SJC order authored by the CJP, who heads the council, mentioned Justice Isa’s letters to the president and then expressed sympathy with Prime Minister Imran Khan and castigated the respondent judge for dragging the prime minister and his spouses and children. But the council, the applications said, had overlooked the fact that it was the prime minister on whose advice the first reference was stated to have been filed by the president.

It was the prime minister who had allegedly dragged the respondent judge’s only spouse and their two adult children, who were illegally snooped on by deploying intelligence apparatus and misusing public funds, the applications alleged.

Personal data, records and documents of the judge’s wife and children were probed, examined, scrutinised, dissected and analysed, including the confidential record maintained by the National Database and Registration Authority, Federal Investigation Agency, Passports and Immigration Office, Federal Board of Revenue and Ministry of Interior, the applications said, adding that the harvested mismatched information and documents were then used to paint half-truths and put together a false reference by launching insidious attack on the petitioner judge.

The applications also mentioned in detail Justice Isa’s two meetings with the chief justice and said that he did not raise these issues merely for the enforcement of his fundamental rights but also because something far more sinister was afoot — the very destruction of the independence of the judiciary at the hands of an executive which had overstepped the prescribed constitutional boundaries.

The judge requested the Supreme Court to dismiss the presidential reference on the sole ground of the complainant’s failure to establish the allegation made against him as found by the SJC. “The Supreme Court should also declare that the present chairman (chief justice) and members of the SJC are no longer competent to hear the reference against Justice Isa on account of the alleged bias shown against the respondent judge, demonstrable from the Aug 19 disposing of the second reference and in the circumstances graciously order the present petition be heard by the full court comprising all eligible judges,” the applications pleaded.

The SC judge also requested the apex court to order the SJC secretary to upload on the Supreme Court website interim replies he had furnished before the council as well as his applications. He also requested the SC to restrain the federal government, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority and all agencies, departments and bodies working under the federal government from interfering in the dissemination of his interim replies.

Justice Isa also sought an SC declaration that the Aug 19 SJC order should not be published in any legal publication and if it was to be published then his application too be published to provide a complete picture to those reading it. Directives should also be issued for initiating appropriate actions, including contempt of court proceedings, against the complainant of the second reference for filing a false complaint which the SJC had eventually rejected.

Justice Isa regretted that he had been a judge of the Supreme Court for almost five years, but he did not know nor was ever informed about the complaints filed before the SJC, including their number and content; how many of those became references, how many references the council proceeded with, the references taken up in the order that they were received or as determined by the secretary, the orders passed in these references which were dismissed, how many references were rendered infructuous by efflux of time, how many references proceeded during the designated and gazetted vacations of the apex court, how many proceeded against a judge at a time when he was on vacations during court vacations, and how many were taken up on the eve of retirement of a senior member of the council.

Justice Isa recalled that when he was the senior most or next senior most chief justice of the Balochistan High Court and became a member of the SJC, the council never met nor was any information about complaints/references against judges ever disclosed to him.

Published in Dawn, August 27th, 2019