Justice Isa again questions SJC’s impartiality

ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa has once again questioned the impartiality of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) in his 17-page rejoinder to the council’s reply on a petition challenging the presidential reference against the Supreme Court judge.

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He raised concerns over the Attorney-General of Pakistan (AGP) submitting the reply for the council in the apex court. He has claimed that the statement filed by the AGP on behalf of the SJC has been “filed without due authorisation” and in violation of Article 100 of the Constitution.

The judge has said that the Constitution states that the attorney-general can only “give advice to the federal government” and perform other duties that “may be referred or assigned to him” by the government.

He wrote, “the engagement of the attorney-general on behalf of the council has amplified the assertions of partiality and malice against the petitioner [Justice Isa].”

The council should have refrained from “entering into any dealing” with the attorney-general, who is counsel for the complainant (government) against the petitioner.

He alleged that the attorney-general has launched unnecessary personal attacks against him in pleadings filed before the council.

He added, “the petitioner has specifically pleaded mala fide with material particulars against all concerned including the attorney-general. In view of such facts, the dealing between the attorney-general and the council raises serious apprehensions regarding the independence and fairness of the pending proceedings against the petitioner and the conduct of the council.”

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”.

With input from APP.

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