ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), an apex body of the lawyers of the country, has decided to challenge the Supreme Court verdict in Justice Qazi Faez Isa case.
PBC Vice Chairman Abid Saqi has expressed serious reservations over the Para 9 of the short order wherein it is held that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman shall submit inquiry report to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), which may initiate misconduct proceedings against Justice Isa.
Saqi feared that state institutions might influence the FBR proceedings, adding that when the full court could not clear an SC judge of allegations then how a Grade-20 officer would work independently without fear and favour.
Another PBC member questioned as to how the Supreme Judicial Council could examine the financial affairs of a judge’s family members. The SC has set a dangerous precedent wherein many complaints might be filed in the SJC against the judges’ family members, including their sons-in-law etc.
It is also learnt that the short order might be challenged by Justice Isa’s spouse and children. However, the judge has yet to evolve a final strategy.
Senior lawyer Irfan Qadir believed that the order of a majority of judges has given legal assistance to the federal government to collect further evidence against Justice Isa. Qadir stated that the court had kept alive the reference against the SC judge.
Interestingly, the short order does not give a clue as to why the presidential reference is quashed and on what grounds the constitutional petitions are allowed. Senior lawyers are hopeful that the detailed judgment would give solid reasons as to why the reference is quashed. They believe that consequences of the detailed judgment might be far-reaching.
The short order starts by saying: “For detailed reasons to be recorded later and subject to any orders made or directions given therein (if any), these petitions are allowed and disposed of.”
In view of these lines, declaration might be expected against the government functionaries on the basis of reasons, which would be given in the detailed judgment.
At present, the federal government functionaries are satisfied with the short order for different reasons. Firstly, despite quashing of the presidential reference, the matter is not yet over. Similarly, despite giving remarks, the order is silent on the consequences.
In view of the short order, the court could not create deterrence to stop the executive from attacking independent judges. A senior lawyer was surprised that the majority order was against those who were not party before the apex court. He wondered as to how the SC could pass direction against Justice Isa’s spouse and his children.
The order says that notices shall be served at the official residence of Justice Isa in Islamabad through courier service and such other means as may be considered appropriate and shall be deemed served on the respondents (spouse and children) when received at the said address.
“In case any of them is outside the country, it shall be the responsibility of such person to timely file a response, and the proceedings before the commissioner shall not be adjourned or delayed for the reason of non-availability in Pakistan of such person.”
Another senior lawyer wondered as to why the court passed such an order against an SC judge’s family, when the Covid-19 situation was at its peak all over the world. It might not be easy for an SC judge’s son to come to Pakistan soon.
One section of the lawyers opined that Justice Isa’s personal appearance before the bench badly affected the case. They also objected to his wife’s statement through a video link.
SCBA President Syed Qalb-i-Hassan demanded of Prime Minister Imran Khan to conduct an inquiry against the government functionaries/officials who wrongly advised for filing the presidential reference.
Renowned lawyer Faisal Siddiqui said that when the SC full court quashed a reference, it only showed that the main purpose of the reference was to harass and defame Justice Isa.
Another section said that majority judges shut the door for the executive to file reference against SC judge. They said that the fate of Justice Isa was in the hands of senior judges rather than the government functionaries, adding that the lawyers should wait for the detailed judgment before reacting.
Mahmood Awan Advocate said that any inquiry by income tax authorities could not extend beyond the commissioner’s finding that the assets of the person hadn’t been satisfactorily explained and were, therefore, liable to taxation as income of that person.
“Therefore, the opinion that the FBR will conduct an inquiry as a JIT to find that the property or funds were of a third party as canvassed by some circles is ill founded.”
In summary, Awan said, there was little headway that the protagonists of the reference could hope to make after the reference had been quashed.