K-P bar protests alleged govt pressure

Ministry of Law denies claim; says not forcing bars to pass resolution against judges


Hasnaat Malik June 16, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Bar Council will observe a complete strike today [Thursday] against the federal government's alleged pressure on the bar associations to pass resolutions against sitting judges of the Supreme Court and higher judiciary – particularly Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The Federal Ministry of Law has, however, denied it is exerting any such pressure.

Even the K-P Bar Council on Wednesday passed a resolution against Minister for Law Dr Farogh Naseem alleging that he is engaged in a conspiracy against judges especially Justice Isa by offering grants to the bar associations if they endorse the proposed resolution against judges.

The K-P Bar Council also announced that it would observe a complete strike on Thursday (today) against the government’s plan to get lawyers support against Justice Isa case. The bar also urged all other bar associations not to endorse the government proposed resolution.

On April 26, the Supreme Court – with a majority of 6 to 4 – accepted the review petitions filed against its June 19, 2020 order for the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to conduct an inquiry into the foreign properties of the family members of Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

With this verdict, Justice Isa was vindicated of the allegations leveled in a presidential reference that claimed that the apex court judge had committed misconduct by not disclosing his family members’ foreign assets in his wealth statement.

The court in its short order also quashed the FBR report that the taxman had submitted to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), the constitutional forum that can hold a superior court judge accountable. The detailed judgment is still awaited.

The government did not issue any official statement after the April 26 order but it moved a “curative review petition” which the Supreme Court Registrar returned by raising seven objections including one with regard to use of scandalous language.

Now the government has ten days to file an appeal against the registrar office objections.

However, since April 26, the government functionaries have started to contact different bar associations to win their support for the government's second review petition.

Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) former vice chairman Amjad Shah several office bearers of bar associations confirmed that they were asked to support the government stance in Justice Isa case for getting funds.

 Even the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) passed a resolution to support the government stance in the case, noting that the LBA – the biggest bar in Asia – cannot stay away from Justice Isa case.

The LBA said the bar demands across the board accountability including accountability of judges. If needed, the bar will become a party in this case, it said. However, the resolution also demanded allocation of a special fund for lawyers in the next budget.

Similarly, a few more bar associations in the Punjab also endorsed the government stance in Justice Isa case. However, the government failed to get support from bar associations of three small provinces.

Talking with reference to the K-P Bar Council strike call, a senior government official wondered why the courts proceedings are being boycotted.

"Neither the judiciary nor litigants are preparing alleged resolutions mentioned in this notice of strike. But ultimately it is the litigants and justice as a system that will suffer," he added.

Munir Kakar, who is only representative of the Pakistan Bar Council from Balochistan, said it is a right of the bar associations to get grants from annual funds allocated by the government in the annual budget.

“However, the PBC condemns the government’s method to get lawyers' support against an upright judge [Isa],” he added. Kakar lamented that a few bar associations in Punjab supported the government stance against a judge who belongs to the province of Balochistan.

He urged all bar associations and judges belonging to the province of Punjab not to become a part of any conspiracy against Justice Isa. All lawyers representatives' conventions will be held today (Thursday). The topic of the convention is "Assault on Judiciary and Media".

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