ISLAMABAD: An application for a new reference against senior Supreme Court (SC) judge, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, has been filed with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
The complaint, submitted by Lahore-based lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt, states that Justice Isa violated the code of conduct for members of the judiciary by "writing letters to the president of Pakistan and sharing it with the media".
The application states that “… while writing letters to the president of Pakistan and sharing it with the media, Justice Isa appears to have committed gross misconduct and is liable to be removed upon the recommendation of the SJC in terms of Article-209 of the constitution of Pakistan.”
PBC forms committee on a presidential reference
“Choosing a public forum for voicing his personal and subjective views and opinions, Justice Isa had denounced the judiciary of this country as a whole, he had targeted the chief executive (prime minister) of the country and had used offensive language to criticise the matter,” read the application which was also sent to President Arif Alvi and the Supreme Court registrar.
“By levelling all such allegations publically without substantiating the same, Justice Isa has violated various Articles of the Code of Conduct issued by the Honourable Supreme Judicial Council under the mandate of Article-209(8) of the constitution.”
In May, President Arif Alvi authorised the filing of a reference with the SJC against alleged misconduct of Justice Isa and Sindh High Court's Justice K K Agha, who allegedly hold foreign properties either in their names or through their spouses.
Consequently, Justice Isa had written a letter to President Alvi seeking clarity regarding reports that the government had filed a reference against him over allegations of misconduct. Copies of the letter were sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan and the apex court as well.
In the second letter to the president, the SC judge requested a copy of the reference filed against him.
Following the controversy, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the government came face-to-face, as the lawyers' body demanded President Alvi’s impeachment for filing the reference, while other bar associations also expressed solidarity with the top court judge.
In a letter to the president, Justice Isa seeks clarity on reference reports
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had also weighed in on the matter, saying the government could not remove Justice Isa and that the SJC would deal with the matter fairly.
“Trust the judges. They will ensure justice [in the matter],” the chief justice said at the Cambridge University in the UK while responding to a query about Justice Isa.
On June 12, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) constituted a joint action committee of lawyers’ representatives to decide a future course of action with regard to the presidential reference against Justice Isa and Justice Agha.
SCBA, SHCBA condemn references against judges
“The move of filing the references by the government against both these judges smacks [of] malafide of the government. The manner and haste shown in filing the references and their timing also raise eyebrows in the legal fraternity. Therefore, we disapprove this move,” read a resolution passed at PBC meeting.
The apex body of lawyers said it expected that "the SJC would not become a party to such designs of the government and would proceed with the matter purely in accordance with law and as per the Constitution."
The PBC also approved the decision taken by a joint meeting of bar representatives on June 8 and 9 in respect of observing a nationwide protest day on June 14.
With a majority of 14 members, the PBC also suspended the membership of Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem. It resolved that the role played by the law minister in filing of references against Justice Isa and Justice Agha was "highly condemnable as he is instrumental in hatching this conspiracy against the independent judiciary."