• CJP, Justice Isa hold rare meeting, discuss ideas to improve judiciary’s image
• Lawyer files complaint against senior puisne judge before SJC

ISLAMABAD: Surprised at the social media uproar generated by his attendance of a convention held to mark 50 years of the promulgation of the Cons­titition, Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Tuesday said the golden jubilee was an occasion for all citizens to celebrate, not just for a particular political party or an institution.

The perception of division and bitterness among SC judges had become stronger amidst a spate of letters and judicial note written by the senior puisne judge, questioning the conduct of the SC registrar and declaring a recent order by a six-judge Supreme Court bench as unconstitutional.

On the other hand, against the backd­r­­op of speculations about a divided hou­se, a thaw was witnessed on Tuesday when Just­ice Isa held a meeting with Chief Jus­tice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial at the lat­­­ter’s chambers, which lasted 30 minutes.

A source privy to the development told Dawn that the meeting was held in a congenial atmosphere, and the perception of widening fissures within the judiciary, and ideas to improve the image of the judiciary and restore citizens’ trust came under discussion.

Referring to the controversy over the golden jubilee celebrations, Justice Isa explained that all SC judges were invited to celebrate the golden jubilee. In a single-page clarification issued both in En­­glish and Urdu, Justice Isa explained that prior to accepting the invitation, inquiries were made as to whether there would be political speeches, and assurances were extended that only the Constitution and its making would be spoken about.

The programme sent to him also confirmed this, he said, adding that having cleared this point, first by his staff from the National Assembly deputy director and then by himself directly with NA speaker, he accepted the invitation as he wanted to show solidarity with the Constitution.

“I had been asked if I would like to speak and I had declined,” Justice Isa said, adding that when political statements were made, in a few speeches, he requ­ested to speak to correct any misconceptions that may arise, and he did so. He said the making of the Constitution was one of the greatest moments in Pakistan’s history, which should be celebrated.

Surprisingly, some have objected to where he sat and/or his presence at the function to commemorate the Constitution. “I would have preferred to sit in the hall on one side or in the gallery, but respect was shown to a member of the judiciary by seating me at the centre; I did not choose to sit there,” Justice Isa explained.

“I may add that the elected representatives of the people deserve all respect.”

“Without the politicians of the All India Muslim League we would not have gained independence,” he noted.

Complaint filed

Meanwhile, Gujranwala Bar Associa­tion president Pervaiz Abid Haral on Tuesday filed a complaint before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) seeking removal of Justice Isa for allegedly committing gross misconduct by visiting the “den of most corrupt, money launderer and tax evaders mafia of Pakistan” — an indirect reference to parliament — on April 10 and using the political platform to condemn the judiciary to voicing his biased views.

A curative review petition, instituted by the previous PTI government on July 8, 2021 against Justice Isa, is already pending adjudication before the CJP.

In the fresh complaint, the bar president said Justice Isa was requested to be removed through an SJC recommendation under Article 209 for allegedly ‘condemning the judiciary’ as an institution by choosing a political forum to express his very private and non-objective views.

According to a press release issued by the PTI media department, the complaint alleged that Justice Isa continued to write different letters regarding state institutions and personalities and released them to the media.

The complaint alleged that the judge appeared to have committed gross misconduct by choosing a public forum for voicing his personal and subjective views and opinions. The complaint emphasised that judiciary was a vital component of the state.

This is the ultimate resort for a beleaguered and aggrieved person. It is thus, that the judicature is conceived, perceived and is meant to act as the neutral arbiter.

The judicature has to act as a neutral umpire which keeps a check on the exercise of power, authority and jurisdiction by other organs of the state so as to ensure that the rights of citizens/persons are not affected and trampled in contravention of the constitution and law, the complaint said.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2023

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