The Supreme Court of Pakistan resumed on Thursday the hearing on the presidential reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who is accused of hiding details of his assets in London.
A ten-member larger SC bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed heard the case today.
During the hearing, Supreme Court’s Justice Muneeb Akhtar asked how can President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan approve a presidential reference based on ‘false legal advice’.
“Telling you in a lenient way that this legal mistake can have consequences,” threatened the apex court judge in his remarks.
The judge asked the government’s counsel and former law minister Barrister Farogh Naseem to tell him about the ‘brilliant’ person who advised the president and prime minister to approve the reference against the SC judge.
“Money Laundering Act does not apply from 2013, so that allegation goes out of the window,” said Justice Atta Bandiyal.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that the court had earlier inquired that how many public office-holders have faced the same legal action.
To which, Naseem said that he has made a note of the question.
Justice Mansoor noted that the government’s counsel has also failed to explain how the Assets Recovery Unit acquired the authority to question a judge.
In continuation of the remarks of the judges, Justice Bandiyal pointed out that the case does not engage action under the 209 Article of the SJC in case of defaulting tax worth Rs 10,000.
“Yes, you are absolutely right, but the Supreme Judicial Council has issued a showcause notice,” responded Naseem before the judges.
He said that the federal government only forwarded the verified information to the SJC to run inquiry.
In Wednesday’s hearing, the apex court looked into the petitions by the Supreme Judicial Council, where during the arguments the government’s counsel Farogh Naseem claimed that the Federal Bureau of Revenue did not begin inquiry against Justice Isa, out of fear.
Naseem had earlier tendered his resignation to represent government in the case agaisnt the judge.
The reference filed against Justice Isa alleged that he 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 wealth returns.
In February this year, the Supreme Court (SC) had directed the federal government to explain in court whether the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) was empowered to conduct an inquiry against a sitting judge of the apex court.
The results of the inquiry, later placed before President Arif Alvi, had resulted in a presidential reference filed against Justice Isa back in May 2019. Justice Isa had been accused of failing to disclose assets belonging to his wife and children in his tax returns.