ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) is expected to consider on April 14 should it proceed afresh against Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court judge on the basis of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) findings it received on three offshore properties.
The SJC chairman, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, according to June 19, 2020 short order by a 10-judge apex court which had taken up a number of petitions against the filing of a presidential reference against Justice Isa, had to lay before the commission the report furnished by the FBR for consideration, action or proceedings, if any.
According to a source privy to the development, SJC may take up FBR’s report under which it slapped a whopping tax penalty of Rs35 million on Sarina Isa, the wife of Justice Isa, on Sept 14, 2020, over non-declaration of three offshore properties in her name as well as her children.
Commissioner Inland Revenue and International Taxes Zone Zulfiqar Ahmed had issued the 164-page order in September explaining the tax liability against Ms Isa for possessing three properties in the UK.
Soon after the FBR report, Ms Isa in a statement censured the decision of imposing the penalty and had accused Mr Ahmed of passing the order without hearing her once.
She also had dubbed the FBR’s decision as a piece of fiction against which she would prefer instituting an appeal soon.
The June 19, 2020, short order though had quashed the presidential reference against Justice Isa as a consequence the proceedings pending in SJC, including the show-cause notice of July 17, 2019, also stand abated, the split verdict with a majority of seven to three also had ordered the commissioner inland revenue to issue appropriate notices under the Income Tax Ordinance (ITO) 2001 to the wife and children of Justice Isa.
The notice should seek explanation from them about the nature and source of the funds separately for each property.
However, the earlier notices issued or proceedings taken under ITO earlier in respect of the properties was terminated as a result of which FBR had to serve fresh notices at the official residence of Justice Isa in Islamabad through a courier service.
The wife and children, under the judgment, had to furnish their replies to the notices along with evidence and on the receipt of the replies the commissioner was required to give an opportunity of hearing and make an order in accordance with the ITO.
Within seven days of the issuance of the order by the commissioner, the FBR chairman had to furnish a report to SJC through its secretary (i.e. the registrar of the Supreme Court) about the proceedings after which the secretary had to place the report before the chairman of the SJC.
SJC can initiate proceedings under Article 209 of the Constitution under its suo motu jurisdiction, the judgment had stated.
Consequently, Justice Isa and Ms Isa and different bar associations instituted a set of review petitions against the findings of the Supreme Court judgment which is pending before the 10-judge bench.
But before the hearing of the review could commence, Justice Isa moved an application before the court to seek live streaming of the review proceedings and argued the application before the court in person instead of his lawyer.
The decision whether the proceedings of the review petition should be broadcast live or not is awaited as the bench had reserved its ruling on the application on March 18.
Published in Dawn, April 8th, 2021