ISLAMABAD: The federal government has alleged that the Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa – who is facing a presidential reference for not disclosing his family members’ assets – is biased towards government functionaries.
“After making allegations against the president, the prime minister, the federation, the law minister and the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP), there is apparent bias in the mind of the learned petitioner judge (Justice Isa),” says the concise statement filed by the government through the AGP office.
The government has also questioned whether Justice Isa should otherwise continue to be part of the judiciary where the federation is in most cases a party in the proceedings. The government has also made it clear that judges are liable to accountability.
“Whether it is a politician or the media or Adlia [judiciary] or any ordinary person or any other department, the process of accountability will be across the board and everyone in every department now has to follow the rule of law. The language used was not derogatory, what was said to be believed by the petitioner (Justice Isa) too that judges [are] also liable to accountability.”
The government has also denied Justice Isa’s allegation that he and his family are subjected to surveillance and said that to level “unsubstantiated serious allegations’ against the government of maligning an SC judge, pressurising him and violating the privacy of his home and dignity of his person and his family without an iota of evidence may call for disciplinary proceedings.”
It has also alleged that Justice Isa is avoiding to provide money trail regarding the purchase of three foreign properties, owned by his family members.
“The petitioner (Justice Isa) is making all-out efforts to avoid the real question as to how the money was transferred and how the foreign exchange was obtained and source of the income for the purchase of the properties. The entire aim of Justice Isa is to stifle the inquiry being conducted by his own peers.”
The government has claimed that at the time of the purchase of the properties, Justice Isa’s son was 23 and his daughter was 26-year-old.
“It is the case of the federation that the children and spouse of the petitioner had no independent source of income and therefore was his dependents as such the petitioner was under obligation to disclose the acquisition of the property and source of the funds used for the purchase of the same”
The government has also denied that any effort or attempt has been made to browbeat the judiciary into submission.
It says an attempt was made to malign and defame AGP Anwar Mansoor Khan and Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem by portraying them as lawyers of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf. “This is an effort to politicise the issue,” it says.
The government denies that the executive has attacked the judiciary and says no one has tried or attempted to subvert the Constitution. The government requests the SC to dismiss Justice Isa’s petition by declaring that the presidential reference is lawfully filed without any malafide or ulterior motives and it does not undermine the independence of the judiciary.
It also objects to the maintainability of Justice Isa’s petition and says that the case of former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Chaudhry was based on facts that are entirely different from the present case.
The reply also claims that the president, the PM and the law minister have been arrayed as respondents but they enjoy immunity under Article 248 of the constitution.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s attorney Muneer A Malik on Tuesday was given a tough time by Justice Umar Ata Bandial who is heading the 10-judge full-court, hearing Justice Isa petition against the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) proceedings initiated on basis of the presidential reference.
Malik requested the full court to grant him a two-week time to examine the government’s concise statement, submitted by the AGP during the court proceedings.
However, Justice Bandial made it clear that they do not want to prolong the case as one member of the bench will not be available. He also hinted at concluding the case within two weeks.
Justice Bandial also noted that Justice Isa is not someone, who stole money from the people. However, he said there is another inference not only the judge but also the entire institution as a whole.
“The other side is alleging that he acquired three properties dishonestly during his tenure as chief justice of the Balochistan High Court. He also did not disclose them in the wealth statement.”
Justice Bandial said the allegation was a ‘stain’ on the judicial institution. He questioned whether the matter could be brushed under the carpet or ignore. He asserted that the SJC is a constitutional forum; therefore respect and decorum of the SJC members will be maintained.
He also referred to the recusal of two SC judges, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan and said it was a painful situation that the two judges were accused of selfishness. He observed that the present case is different from that of former CJP Chaudhry’s case wherein the judge was detained.
Justice Bandial observations were shocking for the representatives of the superior bar, present in the courtroom. A senior member of the bar revealed that in view of the judge observations, the bar will now evolve a new strategy in this case. The hearing of the case is adjourned for two weeks.