ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court has regretted that a simple walk to the court has now become an ordeal in Islamabad.
In a letter made public on Thursday about an incident involving him and a ruling party lawmaker, Mohammad Akram Cheema, Justice Isa regretted that hundreds of police officers were on duty on Wednesday but not one noticed a vehicle having suspected fake number plates in the capital’s Red Zone and parked in front of the National Assembly on the Constitution Avenue.
Without any mention of the person(s) it was addressed to, the judge’s two-page letter nevertheless explained that he was constrained to respond and disclose the truth of the matter otherwise his silence might give credence to the “tall tales of the National Assembly’s member” from Korangi, Karachi.
Referring to the press conference held jointly by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf legislator Cheema and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who the judge said was not present when the incident took place, the letter denied that he had ordered the arrest of the persons in the vehicle.
However, a suspected vehicle and one with “fake plate numbers” could well be seized as well as a vehicle for which custom duty and other taxes were not paid, the letter said, adding that “intimidation, abuse, lies and press conferences do not substitute the truth”.
Justice Isa expressed fears that certain quarters were attacking him “as a substitute for the truth”. The abuse began after he wrote a judgement that did not sit well with certain quarters, he said.
“The tactics employed against me and my family, the threats to my life and abuse hurled at us will not deter me from walking or to continue to point out violations of the law,” he said in his letter, adding it was the duty of every citizen and taxpayer to ensure that law was upheld.
The letter explained that two persons, who the judge had never met before nor recognised, were in a vehicle parked on the Constitution Avenue in front of the National Assembly.
The vehicle had a big antenna of the type that, he believed, were only allowed on the vehicles of armed forces personnel, the letter said. Parking on the Constitution Avenue in front of the assembly was not permitted.
“There were a number of policemen, as there always are, in front of the National Assembly, but none of them instructed the driver of the vehicle to move it, nor did they check the vehicle’s registration book nor the driver’s licence,” the letter said.
Subsequently, the judge asked the persons in the vehicle to identify themselves, but they responded by asking him who he was. He told them that he was a citizen and taxpayer, without identifying himself as a judge.
“I was also not wearing either a black tie or a black coat and had on a blue jacket,” Justice Isa said, adding that he thought the persons and their vehicle might be involved in some criminal activity as it had fake number plates. So he took a photograph of the vehicle and its occupants with his mobile phone.
Then he walked over to the Supreme Court where he had to reach in time to conduct proceedings. However, the vehicle with fake number plates entered the National Assembly building and then exited it. One person alighted from the vehicle, advanced towards him, hurling vile abuses, the letter recalled.
“I ignored him, kept quiet and continued walking towards the Supreme Court,” the letter said.
Meanwhile, MNA Cheema has moved a privilege motion before the National Assembly Secretariat under Rule 97 of the Rules of Procedures and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly over the incident with a request to refer the matter to the Standing Committee on Rules of Procedures and Privilege for examination and investigation of the incident.
Published in Dawn, October 29th, 2021