ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on Monday reserved during a chamber hearing his ruling on federal government’s request to withdraw the curative review petition that the PTI government had moved before the Supreme Court against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
In his docket, the CJP had a set of 12 different applications concerning the curative review, pending before the SC.
Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan, after attending the chamber hearing, told reporters that the CJP had reserved ruling on the matter. He explained that the previous government on July 8, 2021, had instituted a chamber appeal after the registrar office returned the curative review plea in Justice Isa’s case.
The former PTI government had pleaded before the SC that its April 26, 2021 majority judgement in the Justice Isa review case should not be left in the field for allegedly being unjust. The SC on April 26, 2021 by a majority of six to four overturned its 2020 decision to order investigation by tax authorities into the properties of Justice Isa’s children and wife.
Curative review petition argues April 2021 SC majority decision shut doors of judicial accountability
The curative appeal was moved on behalf of President Dr Arif Alvi, former prime minister Imran Khan, former law minister Dr Farogh Naseem and law secretary.
After the chamber hearing, the AGP told reporters that the coalition government in its application informed the SC that it was not interested in pursuing the chamber appeal instituted by the previous government. If the CJP accepted the application, the registrar’s objection to the PTI government’s curative review plea against Justice Isa would sustain.
Last month, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had decided not to pursue the curative review and to withdraw the same from the SC.
Similarly, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar had made a public statement suggesting taking back the curative review petition, which his predecessor Dr Farogh Naseem had moved against Justice Isa.
When asked about his arguments, the AGP told the reporters that he contended before the CJP that neither any law nor the constitution of Pakistan envisaged any remedy to the aggrieved party after final judgement and dismissal of review petition under the curative review. He explained this concept was devised in India through a (Rupa Ashok Hurra case) judgement in 2002 after which the Indian Supreme Court made amendments to its rules to provide relief under curative review.
However, in Pakistan, the then CJP Saqib Nisar had ruled in the judges’ pension case that if a court judgement was per incuriam or given without due regard of the law then the SC could correct the same through another review petition.
According to the curative review plea, moved by the PTI government, the April 26 majority judgement of the top court had closed the doors of judicial accountability in general and the accountability of Justice Isa in particular regarding the information which had emerged and placed on record. The curative review plea stated the April 26 majority decision was against the principles of judicial independence and fundamental rights.
It diluted the standards of judicial accountability rather a shield was provided to judges to evade accountability, the appeal argued. The decision also failed to emphasise that the assets and finances of close relatives of public servants, officials, judges, qazis, etc, such as their spouses and dependent children were also required to be explained, it further argued.
Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2023