ISLAMABAD: Terming the curative reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court in 2019 “baseless and politically motivated”, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered its immediate withdrawal on Thursday.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Mr Sharif instructed Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar to withdraw the reference, saying the government would not pursue the same for it being baseless and politically motivated. The federal cabinet has already approved the withdrawal of the reference.

“This was not a reference rather a victimisation by revengeful Imran Niazi against an impartial person pursuing the course of Constitution and the law. This was a conspiracy to usurp the independence of judiciary and create a division within,” PM Shehbaz remarked in a tweet.

He pointed out that while being in opposition, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and other coalition parties had opposed the “frivolous” reference.

Shehbaz criticises previous PTI govt for initiating case

The prime minister regretted that Imran Niazi had also made the president of Pakistan “misuse” his office for the “criminal act”, adding that he [president] became an accomplice in an attack on the judiciary.

He said the lawyers’ bodies, including the Pakistan Bar Council, had also opposed the reference and the government valued their opinion.

In another statement, PM Shehbaz said that Justice Isa and his family were “harassed and defamed” in the name of the reference.

The reference against Justice Isa was filed by the PTI government in May 2019 for allegedly acquiring three properties in London on lease in the name of his wife and children between 2011 and 2015, but not disclosing them in his wealth returns. Justice Isa contested the allegation, saying he is not a beneficial owner of the flats.

On June 19, 2020, a 10-member SC bench threw out the presidential reference against Justice Isa and termed it “invalid”.

However, seven of the 10 judges on the bench ordered the Inland Revenue Department and the FBR to seek explanations from the judge’s wife and children on the nature and source of funding for three properties in their names in the United Kingdom and submit a report to the SC registrar.

Later in 2021, Justice Isa won a case which set aside the SC’s directive to the FBR.

However, even when the reference was finally quashed in the second round, i.e. the review petition by Justice Isa, the then PTI government had instituted a curative review, which was still pending before the Supreme Court.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2023

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