ISLAMABAD: The apex court on Monday asked if the stigma put upon a judge could be removed if the Supreme Court dismissed a reference filed against him.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial – head of a ten-judge full-bench of the Supreme Court – made this observation while hearing a slew of petitions filed against a presidential reference that seeks removal of the apex court judge Qazi Faez Isa.
In the reference that was moved in June this year, the government had accused that the judge had not declared his family members foreign assets in his wealth statement and thus committed misconduct.
The reference claimed that Justice Isa acquired three properties in London on lease in the name of his wife and children between 2011 and 2015.
The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), the constitutional body that hears complaints against judges, started proceedings on basis of the reference. The proceeding was later challenged by a number of petitioners including Justice Isa.
On Monday, Justice Isa’s counsel Muneer A Malik concluded his arguments on the rejoinder of the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor Khan, who is also a respondent in the case and gave point-wise answers to the allegations and claims made by the AGP.
He said the AGP’s arguments proved his assertion that the government resorted to spying on the judge
Malik said chairman of the Asset Recovery Unit and the Minister of Law Farogh Naseem did not have the authority to investigate a judge of higher judiciary. He said in his client's case, material was collected through state detectives that could not be considered acceptable.
“There are several instances in the Supreme Court where illegal collection of material had been set aside,” he added. The counsel reiterated that the reference was based on ill intention and filed due to Justice Isa’s verdict in the Faizabad sit-in case, adding that the AGP’s rejoinder proved that point.
In the said verdict, Justice Isa had questioned role of intelligence agencies in supporting political protests. Malik said the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and its ally, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, were the parties that filed review petitions against Justice Isa’s verdict in the case.
He said the AGP was supposed to assist the court, not the government. He said the AGP had also accused Justice Isa of resorting to cheap publicity which, he said, was a malicious expression to be used against a Supreme Court judge.
When Justice Bandial asked if stigma put upon the judge could be removed if court dismissed the reference, Malik replied in affirmative and said a stigma could be removed if the SC annulled the reference. The Supreme Court later adjourned hearing of case till today (Tuesday).
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