SC judge questions credentials of PM’s aide on accountability

Updated 30 May 2020

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Justice Isa moves plea before apex court, terming Shahzad Akbar ‘imposter’. — DawnNewsTV/File
Justice Isa moves plea before apex court, terming Shahzad Akbar ‘imposter’. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Friday moved an application before the Supreme Court, questioning the credentials and appointment of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) chairman Mirza Shahzad Akbar.

The application was filed as a 10-judge full court is scheduled to resume after a gap of three months the hearing of a set of challenges to the filing of a presidential reference against Justice Isa from June 2.

At the last hearing on Feb 24, the Supreme Court had ordered the federal government to engage a new lawyer who should be fully committed only to the Justice Isa case.

Justice Isa moves plea before apex court, terming Shahzad Akbar ‘imposter’

Justice Isa in his application described the ARU chairman as ‘imposter’, questioning the criteria and procedure adopted for employing him and terming his appointment illegal and unconstitutional. He asked if the post had ever been advertised and applications invited for it. Also, whether the ARU chairman had been selected by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC), Justice Isa asked. He sought the terms and conditions of Mr Akbar’s employment, also asking whether he was a Pakistani, a foreigner or a dual-national.

A senior counsel on condition of anonymity said the petitioner reserved the right to question the appointment to an office through a quo warranto petition before an appropriate forum. However, he was of the opinion that the applicant should not have raised collateral issues in the middle of a hearing.

The counsel also dropped the hint that Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem may have to appear before the apex court to represent the federal government after resigning from the coveted post in case the government could not engage any senior lawyer who if engaged would need time to have a grip on the case.

Justice Isa alleged that since the ARU had no legal basis, every single rupee spent and used by the unit constitutes pilferage of the public funds.

The petitioner also alleged that Mr Akbar had gathered information about the SC judge and his family but did not reveal the same about himself and his family including details of his income tax and wealth status, when he started filing his income tax returns, why he did not disclose his properties, assets and accounts, why he did not disclose the name of his wife and children, what are the nationalities of his wife and children, whether his wife and children owned properties in Pakistan, and if he disclosed his wife’s and children’s properties in his returns.

The application alleged that Mr Akbar was appointed by Prime Minister Imran Khan as his special assistant on accountability. Paradoxically accountability’s major-domo remained the most unaccountable person in Pakistan, an enigma cloaked in secrecy, it alleged.

It alleged Mr Akbar had no special qualifications yet the PM deemed it fit to appoint him as his special assistant. The ARU chairman also negated the scheme of the governance, the application said, adding the position of the special assistant was to assist the prime minister, but he visibly demonstrated that he himself was running a considerable and important part of the government.

Mr Akbar assumed a privileged status to which the special assistant was not entitled to, the application argued. It alleged that he had misused the symbols of the state, posturing between the flag of Pakistan, the flag of the government and underneath the photograph of the country’s founder and the rule of law.

The position of an assistant to the prime minister is a political position and a political appointment, the application explained, adding that the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister was not the one who was in the service of Pakistan.

It also accused the law minister and former attorney general Anwar Mansoor as part of the troika while Abdul Waheed Dogar who had written a letter to the ARU chairman highlighting alleged offshore properties of Justice Isa was a doyen of the powers that be and the likes him were brought out allegedly to play their designated part as was done in the scripted drama of the reference.

Justice Isa in his application also discussed the role of former special assistant to the prime minister on information Dr Ashiq Awan, who until recently was a formidable pillar of the government and on a controlled media she sponsored and launched an attack on him. But in an ironic twist of fate, she had been silenced by the same forces and immediately after her unceremonious removal on April 27 news reports about her misdeeds started emerging.

He alleged that both law minister and former AG Anwar Mansoor supported constitutional deviations and themselves undermined their trustworthiness, credibility and integrity.

The applicant further alleged that President Dr Arif Alvi despite being the head of the state, too, joined the fray on the side of the government. The president after submitting the reference to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) spoke about the reference in an interview, he added.

According to the application, those associated with the attack on the Supreme Court judge had destroyed their credibility by their own hands and exposed their mala fides, adding that the petitioner had restrained himself from stating much more and consider that the facts already on record and the facts were more than sufficient to make the petition indomitable.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2020