The Supreme Court (SC) reserved its decision on Thursday on Justice Qazi Faez Isa and superior bars’ plea regarding inclusion of three minority judges in the bench hearing the review petitions against the June 19 order.
A six-judge larger bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, reserved the decision.
Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Abdul Lateef Afridi was unable to appear before the bench due to ill health.
Earlier this week, Justice Bandial rebuked Justice Isa’s wife, Sarina Isa, for calling into question the impartiality of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed.
Sarina Isa is among the petitioners who had challenged a split order delivered by a Supreme Court ten-judge bench on petitions filed against a presidential reference that sought Justice Isa’s removal due to his failure to mention his family members’ foreign properties in his wealth statement.
Seven of the judges had referred the matter to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for an inquiry. The FBR was directed to submit its findings to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) which could revive the reference.
In order to hear review petitions against the judgment, the chief justice formed a seven-judge bench comprising all the judges who wrote the majority judgment. One of the members, Justice Faisal Arab, retired on November 3 and later another bench was announced comprising the remaining six judges.
Three judges – Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Yahya Afridi – who held the minority view, were excluded from the larger bench.
At the onset of hearing on Tuesday, Sarina Isa came to the rostrum along with her daughter to address the six-judge larger bench led by Justice Umar Ata Bandial. Sarina said the CJ should be impartial and that he is a respondent in this case as a member of the JCP.
She also questioned whether a six-judge larger bench could overturn a judgment of seven judges.
She even directly addressed every member of the bench by name and posed the same question that whether a six-member bench could overturn the judgment of seven judges.
A visibly perturbed Justice Bandial told Sarina Isa not to overstep her limits. "You should be careful while talking about the chief justice and the institution," he noted.
Justice Bandial said the chief justice as the head of the institution has left the matter related to the inclusion of the three remaining judges to this larger bench. “We are just confining ourselves to your application for inclusion of the three minority judges,” he said.
Justice Isa's counsel Muneer A Malik also pressed his arguments for inclusion of the three judges, citing several judgments to establish that the review petition should be heard by the same bench.