ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) has also moved the Supreme Court of Pakistan, demanding that Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa should recuse himself from hearing a presidential reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
The CJP is chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), which is hearing the presidential reference filed against Justice Isa in May this year for his alleged non-disclosure of family members assets. The PBC’s move has come in the wake of an ‘informal meeting’ between the CJP and Justice Isa.
“Apart from it, after admitting certain deliberations in the order dated 19-08-2019 of the SJC, it may not be appropriate to remain a part of SJC by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan,” reads the petition filed by the PBC Vice Chairman Syed Amjad Shah and others on Wednesday.
A chief justice, it says, is required to properly guide and advise his fellow judges in questions relating to the propriety of any act. As such, a judge cannot be penalised if he exercises his discretion in a matter of propriety after consultation with the chief justice, it adds.
The petition also questions whether malafide of the SJC is not apparent from the fact that nominations of two of its members have been accepted for appoint of judges of high courts while the nominations of a chief justice, who is not member of the council, has been turned down.
It also asks whether covert surveillance of judges and their families is permissible and “what is the status of any information gathered as a result”.
Maintaining that the “references [against Justice Isa] are primarily motivated by his authorship of the Inter alia Faizabad judgment and others which have aroused great resentment on part of the ruling parties and within the visible and invisible branches of the government,” the petition asks the apex court to restrain the SJC from proceeding on the presidential reference.
The petition also contends that the SJC is not competent to declare that an asset which is otherwise in the name of an individual is benami without making that individual a party to the proceedings.
“It is respectfully submitted that the honourable SJC’s jurisdiction does not extend to individuals who are not judges, which include the adult children of a judge and his non-dependent wife; it therefore cannot make them a party to the proceedings.”
It says family of a judge is entitled to due process of law under Article 10A of the Constitution, including benefit of adjudication process prescribed under the ordinary laws of the country including tax laws.
The PBC also asks the SC to direct the SJC to amend the SJC Procedure of Enquiry to provide greater transparency in the working of the SJC in line with the suggestions made and to structure the discretion of the SJC with respect to the manner that complaints/references are taken up and processed.
This is the fourth petition filed against the presidential reference filed against Justice Isa seeking his removal for non-disclosure of his family’s assets in his wealth statements.
Justice Isa, Supreme Court Bar Association and the Balochistan High Court’s senior lawyer Abid Hassan Minto have challenged it in the top court.