ISLAMABAD: A seven-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial is likely to commence from Sept 17 formal hearing of petitions moved against the filing of presidential references against Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court and Justice K.K. Agha of the Sindh High Court.
In addition to the presiding judge, the bench will consist of Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.
Senior judges Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Mushir Alam, who are also members of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) which is hearing the presidential reference against Justice Isa, are not part of the larger bench which will start proceedings in the petitions against the reference.
Justice Bandial heads seven-member bench
Soon after filing of the presidential reference, Justice Isa challenged it by instituting a petition before the Supreme Court. In all, the top court of the country is seized with six different petitions on the same subject, namely by Justice Isa himself, the Supreme Court Bar Association, Pakistan Bar Council, a joint petition by eminent jurist Abid Hassan Minto and right activists I.A. Rehman as well as by president of Quetta Bar Association Muhammad Asif Reki.
Justice Isa is also likely to submit on Friday additional documents in the Supreme Court to back up the petition he has already filed.
On Aug 7, Justice Isa moved the petition by describing the reference against him as one that was “moved by a proxy with mala fide intent to achieve a collateral purpose”.
Drafted and filed by Justice Isa himself under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, the 71-page petition had sought a declaration that the in-camera hearing of the reference by SJC were without lawful authority and in breach of the fundamental rights.
“This petition is not just about a judge but sends a signal to all, that they too will be subjected to the same treatment if they persist in acting independently and decide cases in accordance with the Constitution and the law by disregarding vested interests,” Justice Isa had cautioned.
A restraining order against the SJC was also sought by the petitioner till the disposal of the present petition since the references undermine the independence of the judiciary.
In his petition, Justice Isa had not only rebutted allegations of possessing properties in the United Kingdom by his wife and children, but also attacked the secretary of the SJC, Arbab Muhammad Arif, who happens to be the registrar of the Supreme Court, as well as asked why Barrister Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the chairman of Assets Recovery Unit (ARU), and Zia-ul-Mustafa Nasim, the legal expert of ARU, were carrying out functions of the bureaucracy when they were not civil servants.
“To the best of petitioner’s knowledge both these gentlemen are not civil servants; they are also not bound by rules of confidentiality applicable to civil servants,” Justice Isa had contended, adding that those not in the service of Pakistan could not be assigned functions of the executive.
The petition had also sought details of the political affiliation of the two gentlemen, especially with the ruling PTI or its coalition partners, and wondered whether both had acted independently.
“By whom these two gentlemen have been employed? What are terms and conditions of employment of these two gentlemen? Do both hold Pakistani nationality or are they foreign nationals or hold dual nationality? What are past and present political affiliations of the two gentlemen and what are the income status, wealth tax status and history of the two with supporting documents, before and during the present employment?” the petition had asked.
Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2019