Holding inquiry against Justice Isa violates mandate of SJC, Munir Malik tells SC

ISLAMABAD: Munir A. Malik, the counsel for Justice Qazi Faez Isa, on Tuesday argued that the administration bypassed the Supreme Judicial Counsel (SJC) and held an inquiry against Justice Isa, violating the mandate of the SJC.

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The 10 Supreme Court judges full court, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, was told by the counsel that only the SJC can hold an inquiry against a judge. The court was hearing multiple petitions against a presidential reference against Justice Isa.

The counsel while delivering his arguments said that the administration had attempted to target the judiciary. He asked the court to throw out the reference based on “mala fide intentions”.

Malik said, “the SJC should also have taken these aspects into consideration before initiating the proceedings based on the reference.”

A private security agency was hired to compile a report about activities of the family in London during the past decade, added the counsel.

The relevant authorities issued notices to his client, seeking declaration of assets and tax returns for the period between 2015 to 2018, urged the counsel, further adding that the mentioned documents had already been submitted.

The court adjourned the hearing of the case till Monday.

On October 7, the council rejected the allegations levelled against it Justice Isa pertaining to a presidential reference filed against him. Justice Isa had accused the SJC of being partial with regard to the presidential reference against him. The top court had sought a response from the council on Justice Isa’s allegations.

The council said that its stance with regard to the reference “is non-adversarial, fully impartial and entirely non-partisan”. It said the proceedings before the SJC are “immune from judicial review” by virtue of provisions under Article 211 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

On October 10, AGP Anwar Mansoor Khan on Thursday submitted a reply in the Supreme Court, regarding presidential reference against apex court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

In his reply, the AGP said that Justice Isa’s spouse and children own expensive properties in the United Kingdom, which were purchased in the year 2004 and 2013 and at the time when they had no independent source of income of their own.

The inescapable conclusion which follows is that the properties are Benami and that Justice Qazi Faez Isa is the ostensible owner, he added.

He said that the Reference only directs the Supreme Judicial Council about the inquiry into whether the conduct of the Petitioner in owning those properties, though ostensibly, is free from financial impropriety.

In May, SJC issued notices to Justice Isa and Justice Karim Khan Agha of the Sindh High Court (SHC) over references filed against them.

President Arif Alvi had filed a reference against Justice Isa for not disclosing in his income-tax returns and wealth statements three properties in the UK. Justice Isa maintained, however, that the properties belonged to his children.

The SJC — the only constitutional forum that can examine the conduct of superior court judges and recommend their removal — held a hearing of the two references on June 14.

According to media reports, the references accuse the two judges of concealing their assets and recommend action against them under Article 209 of the Constitution.

Earlier that month, against the backdrop of reports regarding the institution of references against superior court judges, Justice Isa had approached President Dr Arif Alvi, complaining that selective leaks to the media amount to his character assassination, thus jeopardising his right to due process and fair trial.

An informed source had told media that in his letter to the president, the SC judge had also said he would be obliged if the former could let him know if it was correct that a reference had been filed against him.

On August 19, The SJC dismissed the reference against Justice Isa for writing letters to President.

The “private letters” written to the president by Justice Isa “ha[d] not been found by us to be serious or grave enough to constitute misconduct sufficient for his removal from the exalted office of a Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” read the order from SJC.

The reference was filed by a Lahore-based lawyer, stating that Justice Isa had violated the code of conduct by “writing letters to the president of Pakistan and sharing it with the media”.

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