Some ministers, lawyers propose withdrawal of reference against Justice Isa

They foresee ‘dreadful’ consequences the way Musharraf saw in his reference against top judge

Hasnaat Malik June 04, 2020
Justice Qazi Faez Isa. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: After strong observations of Supreme Court judges on Thursday, a section within the federal government had started advocating the idea of withdrawing the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa in order to avoid any dreadful consequences.

Sources in the PTI government told The Express Tribune that a few top government functionaries, influential lawyers, including two federal ministers, wanted that the government withdraw the presidential reference in order to avoid any possible clash with the judiciary.

“I have again advised the government to withdraw the reference in the prevailing situation,” a federal minister told The Express Tribune, while speaking on the condition of anonymity. While referring to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s reference against then chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the minister said that it was his consistent view that consequences of the presidential references were always “dreadful”.

A senior lawyer said that he had already advised the quarters concerned not to pursue the presidential reference against Justice Isa, otherwise, its fate might be similar to that of Musharraf’s reference against former CJP Chaudhry. He believed that the government lost its case after former attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan’s statement against members of 10-judge full court on February 18.

A senior PTI lawyer, who witnessed the court proceedings on Thursday, opined that judges, especially, Justice Muneeb Akhtar’s observations reflected that the reference would not be sustainable. He said that it would be the best for Prime Minister Imran Khan to withdraw the reference on the advice of the incumbent Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan.

Though AGP Khan recused himself from arguing on behalf of the federal government, leading judge Justice Umar Ata Bandial on February 24 asked him to apply his mind. He has been witnessing the court proceedings daily.

Sources in the AGP office said that Khalid Javed Khan was also not hopeful that the reference against Justice Isa might be sustained in view of the judges’ observations, adding that the AGP had already conveyed his opinion to the relevant quarters.

SC warns federal govt of consequences in Justice Isa case 

On the other hand, it is learnt that the legal team led by Dr Farogh Naseem is very confident that they will convince the judges to reject Justice Isa’s petition against the presidential reference seeking his removal.

“Though, I am of the view that the reference will be quashed, our top brass is convinced by legal team that judges observations are tentative and nothing will happen,” revealed another federal minister.

It is learnt that Prime Minister Imran will never take decision about withdrawal of reference without consultation from the relevant quarters. So their opinion will matter. On the other hand, a debate has already started over possible consequences, if Justice Isa petition is accepted on the ground of mala fide.

Renowned lawyer Faisal Siddiqui believed that the government should no longer concentrate on winning this case but on the grave consequences of its possible defeat. “[It is] time to withdraw this mala fide and illegal reference,” he said.

Another lawyer said that if mala fides of facts found, contempt proceedings might follow against some or all of the movers of this presidential reference.

Under the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) rules, proceedings might be initiated on false complaint.

He said Article 209 of the Constitution protected the judges and the independence of judiciary, which is one of the features of the Constitution. In view of above, he continued, the court may hold that there was subversion of the

Constitution, and try the accused persons under Article 6. However, he added that it depended on the behaviour of the executive and how it dealt with this matter.

One section within the government agrees that clash with the judiciary might have severe consequences. Two previous regimes of the PPP and the PML-N faced tough time by the superior courts. Government functionaries must learn lesson from the past and avoid any confrontation with the judiciary, the lawyer said.

Another senior lawyer said that the judiciary played a vital role in changing the shape of politics. If opposition, especially the Sharifs, got relief from court, there might be great setback for both the PTI government and the security establishment, he added.

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