ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Friday gave his nod to the withdrawal of the curative review reference and Civil Miscellaneous Application (CMA) against the judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The president gave the approval on the advice of the prime minister in accordance with Article 48 of the Constitution.

Dr Alvi also signed his power of attorney in favour of Advocate of Supreme Court Anees Ahmed Shehzad.

The president took this decision a day after the prime minister directed Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar to withdraw the curative review reference against Justice Isa, observing that the action had been taken by the previous government on “flimsy” and “baseless” grounds.

In a tweet on Thursday, the PM had said the curative review was based on “ill-will and meant to harass and intimidate the honourable Judge at the behest of Imran Niazi”.

The prime minister was of the view that Justice Isa and his family were “harassed and defamed” in the name of the reference.

“This was not a reference, but a vendetta by Imran Khan Niazi, a vindictive person, against a fair-minded judge who followed the path of the Constitution and the law,” the prime minister had said.

He said the reference was a nefarious conspiracy to divide the independence of the judiciary, recalling that the PML-N and allied parties had condemned the move even when they were in the opposition.

In his statement, the PM had also criticised the president for being partisan in the current political tussles between the ruling alliance and main opposition — the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI). “Imran Niazi misused the constitutional office of the president for this criminal act and President Arif Alvi became an instrument in the attack on the judiciary and an accomplice to a lie,” he said.

Lawyers’ organisations across the country, including the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), had also opposed the reference and said that their opinion was valued.

The reference filed against Justice Isa by the PTI government in May 2019 alleged that he had acquired three properties in London on lease in the name of his wife and children between 2011 and 2015, but did not disclose them in his wealth returns. Justice Isa had contested the allegation, saying he was not a beneficial owner of the flats — neither directly nor indirectly.

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 Federal Board of Revenue (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 UK and submit a report to the SC registrar.

Later in 2021, Justice Isa won the case which set aside the SC’s aforementioned directive after which the entire exercise conducted by the FBR was rendered null and void.

However, even when the reference was finally quashed in the second round, the PTI government had instituted a curative review, which was still pending before the Supreme Court.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2023

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