ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) will resume hearing of the Justice Qazi Faez Isa case on June 2.
A 10-member judge bench, led by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, will resume hearing of the case wherein the federal government will respond over Justice Isa's petition in which he contended that the presidential reference against him is based on malafide intent.
The last hearing of the case was conducted on February 24 in which the federal government had sought three weeks adjournment. Later, the hearing could not be conducted due to the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal government on May 23, 2019, moved the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) – the forum that can hold superior court judges accountable – against Justice Isa and Sindh High Court judge K K Agha over non-disclosure of their families foreign assets in their wealth statements.
The SJC, under the chairmanship of former chief justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, started swift proceedings on basis of the reference and even issued show-cause notices to the judges after declaring their preliminary written replies as unsatisfactory.
However, the legal fraternity strongly reacted to the reference and both the rival groups of lawyers – Asma Jahangir group and Hamid Khan group –united against the government’s move.
The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) – the apex regularity body of lawyers – also started arranging conventions and protests against the reference all over the country. Lawyers belonging to small provinces started to lead the campaign against the presidential reference.
Despite distributing millions of rupees among bars, the Federal Minister for Law Dr Farogh Naseem could not get the support of the majority of lawyers for reference.
A number of senior lawyers described the reference as an attack on independent judges by the security establishment. They said the bar is the only institution which could hold the judiciary accountable.
One section of lawyers even raised doubts about the role of a few judges against Justice Isa.
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Challenging the reference in the apex court under Article 184 (3), Justice Isa also questioned the role of the SJC led by former chief justice Khosa.
Justice Isa had not endorsed Justice Khosa’s findings regarding reopening of Hudabiya case against Sharif family while hearing the National Accountability Bureau appeal.
SC judge in his petition claimed that the SJC’s role in his case was biased. Now two SJC members – Justice Khosa and Justice Sheikh Azmat – have retired.
Following Justice Isa, superior bars also moved against presidential reference in the apex court.
In October last year, a 10-member full court led by Justice Umar Ata Bandial resumed hearing of the case. On the request of Justice Isa, two SC judges namely Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood recused themselves from hearing his case.
The SC judge’s legal team led by renowned lawyer Muneer A Malik and comprising Babar Sattar and Salahuddin Ahmed successfully pleaded the case.
Since October 2019, the full court has remained visibly divided into different legal points, with a few judges questioning the maintainability of the petition in view of Article 211 of the Constitution.