SJC secretary denies allegations levelled by Justice Isa

Updated October 20, 2019

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Supreme Judicial Council’s (SJC) secretary Arbab Muhammad Arif denied on Saturday the allegations levelled at him by Justice Qazi Faez Isa (pictured) in a rejoinder submitted to the Supreme Court. — Photo courtesy SC website/File
Supreme Judicial Council’s (SJC) secretary Arbab Muhammad Arif denied on Saturday the allegations levelled at him by Justice Qazi Faez Isa (pictured) in a rejoinder submitted to the Supreme Court. — Photo courtesy SC website/File

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Judicial Council’s (SJC) secretary Arbab Muhammad Arif denied on Saturday the allegations levelled at him by Justice Qazi Faez Isa in a rejoinder submitted to the Supreme Court.

In the one-page reply submitted to the full court seized with a set of petitions challenging the filing of a reference against Justice Isa, the SJC secretary claimed the allegations mentioned in the judge’s rejoinder were against the record and that he had always performed his duties with rectitude, integrity and honesty.

Mr Arif said he had always acted in good faith in the performance of his duties and had held, and would continue to hold, all the superior court judges in high esteem.

In his rejoinder, Justice Isa had accused the SJC secretary of fixing the presidential reference before the council by demonstrating unusual haste when the body did not direct an out-of-turn hearing.

By employing dubious tactics, the secretary became a complainant, the petitioner judge had alleged

According to the rejoinder, the secretary fixed the reference when the petitioner judge was on a sanctioned leave to assist his wife in taking care of her father, who had been diagnosed with cancer.

It contended that the situation had deprived the petitioner of his fundamental right to a fair trial and the due process, especially when he could not seek legal advice and legal representation.

Likewise, Mr Arif provided the petitioner judge’s response to the attorney general, the prosecutor in the reference, even when the council had not asked him to do so.

Of his own accord, the SJC secretary obtained a copy of the rejoinder from the petitioner’s private secretary and provided it to the attorney general on the very day it was filed, that is June 28, alleged the judge, adding the secretary kept the council in the dark about the haste in providing the attorney general a copy of the response.

Similarly, the secretary assumed the powers of the council by entertaining the “illegally filed” rejoinder from the attorney general in the absence of any directive from the SJC and “in violation of” the Supreme Judicial Council Procedure of Enquiry, 2005.

The SJC secretary was provided three letters of the petitioner judge that he wrote to President Arif Alvi, in which a complaint was registered about Justice Isa’s “media trial, character assassination, humiliation, defamation and the blatant violation of his fundamental rights”, the rejoinder said. But the secretary considered none of these letters worthy enough for him to take notice or prepare a note for the chief justice/SJC chairman.

The secretary “discriminated against the petitioner” and displayed “chutzpah” by immediately entertaining a complaint regarding these letters — a second reference which eventually got rejected by the SJC, said the rejoinder. The complaint contained no supporting evidence with regard to its contents and overnight a fact sheet was prepared and put up before the council in record time.

The rejoinder alleged that the role of the secretary, in terms of the SJC procedure, was secretarial in nature, but he issued a show-cause notice in two references. In the purported show-cause notice the secretary included material that was not in the presidential reference though he referred to the rejoinder moved by the attorney general and extensively reproduced text from its contents, either verbatim, by copy-pasting or by paraphrasing passages.

Mr Arif included in the purported show-cause notice allegations that did not find mention in the complaint received in the reference, such as the claim that the petitioner judge had made insinuations against state institutions. By employing such tactics the SJC secretary had himself become a complainant, said the rejoinder.

The petitioner judge had also filed two applications to the SJC on July 25, seeking copies of the documentary evidence stated to be filed with Abdul Waheed Dogar’s complaint — the original complaint on the basis of which the presidential reference was filed — and also seeking public disclosure of the judge’s response.

None of these applications was processed even though the information and documents sought through the first application should be provided immediately because “there is every likelihood that these would be created, manufactured and manipulated”, the rejoinder alleged.

It added that the petitioner judge was made to comply with impossible deadlines for the filing of his response to the SJC notice and when the last date of filing of replies (July 31) arrived, the secretary himself was absent without any intimation to the petitioner or his private secretary.

Published in Dawn, October 20th, 2019