SCBA vows to stand by Justice Isa

Updated 10 Jun 2020

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Petition seeking dismissal of presidential reference filed before SC. — SC website
Petition seeking dismissal of presidential reference filed before SC. — SC website

ISLAMABAD: As the hearing in the challenges to the presidential reference has reached a crucial stage, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has resolved to stand by Justice Qazi Faez Isa and believes that the reference was illegal and filed with mala fide intention.

A resolution on the matter was adopted during the 22nd meeting of the SCBA’s executive committee on June 6 in Islamabad which was presided over by SCBA President Syed Qalbe Hassan.

Already former law minister Dr Farogh Nasim is arguing on behalf of the federal government for the allegations levelled in a set of petitions challenging the filing of the reference against Justice Isa.

The SCBA meeting also said the hearing in the presidential reference against Justice Isa before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) as well as on the pet­itions before the Supreme Court clearly showed the ill-intention of the government.

Petition seeking dismissal of presidential reference filed before SC

Reiterating its solidarity with Justice Isa, the meeting also resolved that the SCBA will safeguard the integrity and the independence of the judiciary and will stand side by side with Justice Isa until logical conclusion of the matter.

In a related development, another petition was filed before the Supreme Court, seeking dismissal of the presidential reference against Justice Isa.

Advocate Arshad Ali Chaudhry of the SC in his petition cited the 2010 Iftikhar Mohammad Chau­dhry case, recalling that the judgement required that the information or complaint against a Supreme Court judge must be laid before the Prime Minister and the President before collection of any material against a judge.

By not forming his own opinion in respect of the purported misconduct of the judge, the President allegedly contravened Article 209(5) of the Constitution, the petition contended. Similarly, it argued, the PM also contravened the 2010 Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry case ruling by not forming his opinion before sending the same to the President to forward the same to the Supreme Judicial Council.

The petition asked whether the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) chairman enjoyed the authority to receive or process a complaint from a journalist against an SC judge and to require the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) or any government functionaries to provide personal records of the judge and his family members and to carry out an investigation into their affairs.

It stated that the SJC was bound by all decisions of the Supreme Court including the 2010 Iftikhar Chaudhry case as well as the 2016 Mustafa Impex case and these judgments have not been followed while filing of the reference before the SJC, therefore the same could not be entertained.

The petition also wondered whether the reference against the SC judge could be filed with regard to matters that had occurred before his appointment as a judge of the apex court, i.e. prior to Sept 5, 2014, and whether the constitutional protection stood negated in the filing of the reference about matters before his appointment.

The petition questioned if the issuance of a show-cause notice by the SJC secretary, a serving bureaucrat and part of the executive, to a judge violated Article 175(3) of the Constitution.

The petitioner argued that if the judge was the real owner of three offshore properties, there was no reason for him to purchase the properties in the name of his wife and children. Like other known personalities, the judge, too, could have used the device of the company, trust, special purpose vehicle or other such means which had no detectable connection with his or his family, the petitioner said, adding that a simple explanation for not doing this is that the judge did not attempt to conceal them.

The petition contended that the SC judge was an income tax filer and income tax payer and paid a substantial amount as income tax. If he could buy valuable properties in Pakistan, there was nothing preventing him from buying properties of lesser value in London, the petition added.

Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2020