Justice Isa defends suo motu action

Says has been targeted for no reason other than doing his duty


Hasnaat Malik August 25, 2021
Supreme Court Judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD:

Justice Qazi Faez Isa while defending exercising the suo motu jurisdiction on the application against harassment of media persons has said that he has been targeted for no reason other than doing his duty.

Justice Isa has submitted a 15-page note in the Supreme Court wherein he said that Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial while responding to Supreme Court Bar Association President Lateef Afridi dispelled the impression that the Supreme Court was divided.

“However, a legitimate perception cannot be assuaged by platitudes when I have been targeted for no reason other than for doing my duty."

The SC judge said that public perception cannot be gained by simply denying that a judge of the apex court “is not targeted or persecuted”.

Read Larger SC bench holds in abeyance plea against media persons

He said that despite such treatment, he has done his utmost to maintain maximum cordiality with his colleagues.

"I never reciprocated in kind, let alone pass an order restraining any of my distinguished colleagues in like manner, I still maintain good relations with all my colleagues.

"The citizens of this country not only expect every judge to strictly abide by the Constitution and his oath of office but also to work in a congenial and amicable atmosphere, one which facilitates the dispensation of justice and to ensure maximum disposal of cases without fear or favour."

Justice Isa said that if his distinguished colleagues had any apprehensions or misgivings, they could have discussed the matter with the members of bench-Il which had taken notice and passed the order dated August 20, 2021, but none of them did so and the registrar maintained utmost secrecy.

"Instead, the matter was immediately and publicly disclosed, and I learnt of it, not through the Supreme Court, but through the press."

Justice Isa also said that an unusual practice prevailed in the Supreme Court that is not sanctioned either by any law of the Constitution or the Supreme Court Rules, 1980, which is to seek prior approval of the cause list from the chief justice with regard to the cases listed therein before different benches.

While the hon'ble chief justice is empowered to constitute benches, he cannot determine which particular case should be fixed before particular benches except when it is under the unusual circumstance that there is a division of opinion or a member of a bench states that a particular case should not be placed before him.

Justice Isa said that if a bench of the Supreme Court starts to monitor the workings and orders passed by another bench, it would result in chaos and the collapse of the judicial system if different benches start to undo, “supplant and/or set aside the orders of other benches”.

A case cannot be monitored by another bench nor can the bench, hearing a case, be reconstituted.

"I remained a Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court for over five years but never once sought, proposed cause list of cases to determine whether the listed cases should or should not be placed before any particular bench. Once the Hon'ble Chief Justice has constituted the benches then cases should be fixed in routine before such benches without any filtration," Justice Isa observed.

The SC judge also raised questions on the conduct of the Supreme Court Registrar.

He observed that registrars borrowed from the government were known to misuse the office, “for instance by immediately fixing cases in which the Government was interested and intentionally delaying or never fixing those cases which the government does not want heard or to never fix them.”

"There is a very long list of such cases, it appears that the Registrar, who is government servant, on the very day of passing the order dated 20 August 2021 proceeded to protect the government's interest and that of his former colleagues," he added.

Read more SC constitutes five-member larger bench to hear journalists' harassment case

Meanwhile, the superior bars have demanded of the Supreme Court to form a full court for determining the question of how suo motu jurisdiction should be invoked/entertained.

A larger bench of the apex court led by Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar is resuming the hearing today (Wednesday) to determine the legal question of how the suo motu jurisdiction should be invoked.

The notices have also been issued to attorney general for Pakistan, Supreme Court Bar Association president and Pakistan Bar Council vice chairman for legal assistance in this regard.

The larger bench in its first order noted that the order passed by the division bench of the apex court led by Justice Qazi Faez Isa on the application against harassment of media persons, prima facie makes a departure from the norms of the applicable procedural practice.

However, Sindh High Court Bar Association President Salahuddin Ahmed told The Express Tribune that judges who are passionate about a cause (no matter how noble) do not possess enough detachment to hear it objectively.

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