ISLAMABAD: Different premier high court bars are gearing up for another round of litigation as the Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA), after the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), has also approached the Supreme Court, seeking review of its June 19 majority order requiring verification by the tax authorities of three offshore properties in the name of wife and children of Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
Filed through senior counsel Rasheed A. Razvi, the SHCBA petition argued that the directives, observations or contents of paragraphs three to 11 were unnecessary, superfluous, contradictory, excessive and unlawful, thus liable to be reviewed and deleted since it constituted mistake and error apparent on the face of the record.
The majority order by seven judges had quashed the presidential reference against Justice Isa but ordered the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman to furnish a report under his signatures to the secretary of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), containing details of the proceedings conducted by the commissioner inland revenue after seeking explanation from the wife and children of Justice Isa about the nature and source of the funds used to purchase three properties in the United Kingdom.
PBC seeks reopening of family, civil courts in Karachi
On the receipt of the report, the SJC will determine to initiate any action/proceedings for the purposes of Article 209 of the Constitution, in its suo motu jurisdiction, the judgement had explained.
In its review petition, the SHCBA alleged that the government had recently terminated the services of the FBR chairperson and appointed a new chief only to manipulate and adversely influence the investigation being carried out by the board on the directives of the Supreme Court through its June 19 verdict.
“This act on the part of the government is merely a ploy to subvert and adversely influence the investigation being carried out by the FBR,” the petition alleged, adding that the cosmetic changes in the FBR at this critical time when the apex court had referred the matter to the board for investigation was an outcome of a joint and systematic attempt being made by certain visible, and certain invisible, quarters to subjugate and permanently fetter the independence of the judiciary side by side manipulate and adversely influence the investigation.
“Moreover, timelines/deadlines have been given to the income tax authorities through paragraphs three to 11 with regard to the proceedings against the wife and children of the judge which are clearly illegal because the Income Tax Ordinance (ITO) 2001 and other related laws in this behalf have no provision for such timelines or deadlines for holding the proceedings purportedly to be held under Section 116 or other related provisions of the ITO. Hence the timelines/deadlines mentioned therein are without any basis or sanctity in law and ought to be set aside,” the petition pleaded.
After declaring the presidential reference against Justice Isa as quashed, the petition contended, the SJC had become functus officio for the purpose of this case; then how could such a body take notice of any future report against the learned judge.
“Article 209 of the Constitution makes it clear that SJC is not a continuing body and is constituted for every individual case that is brought before it,” the petition said, adding that it was on receipt of a presidential reference or in case of assumption of suo motu that the SJC was constituted for a particular case.
“This being the case, how could an un-constituted SJC or its chairman entertain a report,” the petition said, adding that this constitutional aspect had escaped the notice of the Supreme Court in its June 19 order.
“In any case, SJC has no jurisdiction to probe or inquire into the assets and properties of the spouse and children of a judge because its jurisdiction is limited to the extent of physical or mental incapacity of a judge or a case of misconduct against a judge. Spouse and children of a judge do not fall within the scope and ambit of exercise of jurisdiction,” the petition argued.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Abid Qazi on Friday requested the chief justice of the Sindh High Court to take appropriate action for reopening the family and civil courts in Karachi.
The request was made in view of the concern being expressed by the lawyers in Karachi over the continued closure of family and civil courts in the city. As a result of the closure, the litigants are being affected adversely.
“It is disappointing that when all the courts right from the district level to the level of the apex court are regularly functioning, why the family and civil courts at Karachi are closed,” Mr Saqi regretted.
Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2020