Justice Isa seeks SC Registrar's removal for discarding his suo motu verdict

Senior judge asks establishment division to ‘recall its officer to prevent him from damaging reputation of SC'

Hasnaat Malik April 03, 2023
Justice Qazi Faez Isa. PHOTO: FILE


Supreme Court Judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa has asked the establishment division to immediately relinquish charge of Ishrat Ali, registrar of apex court, for issuing a circular, discarding his judicial order related to suo motu proceedings.

The top court on Friday “disregarded” a judgement authored by Justice Isa, ordering the postponement of suo motu cases till amendments were made in the SC Rules 1980 regarding the discretionary powers of the chief justice to form benches.

In its circular issued by the Supreme Court Registrar, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial noted that the observations made by the majority judgement in paras 11 to 22 and 26 to 28 were beyond the matter fixed before the court and “invokes its suo motu jurisdiction”.

The SC registrar said that the order violated the rules laid down by a five-member judgement.

Read more: SC disregards 2-judge verdict deferring suo motu cases

In response to the registrar’s circular, Justice Isa asked the establishment division to “recall its officer, Mr Ishrat Ali, to prevent him from further damaging the reputation and integrity of the Supreme Court”.

"And, if you consider appropriate to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him in accordance with the applicable laws as he has apparently violated the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the order of the Supreme Court dated 29 March 2023, passed in Suo Motu Case No. 4 of 2022," the note issued by Justice Isa noted.

In the letter, Justice Isa said he was astonished to receive the circular issued by the SC Registrar which he said “seeks to negate, undo, disobey and violate” order issued by the three-member special SC bench, with a two-to-one majority.

“The Registrar does not have the power or authority to undo a judicial order, and the Chief Justice cannot issue administrative directions with regard thereto,” the senior puisne judge observed.

What was the judgement?

On Wednesday, a special SC bench, with a two-to-one majority, ordered suspending all suo motu cases — under Article 184(3) of the Constitution — until amendments were made to the SC rules governing the chief justice's discretionary powers.

The special bench order came on the suo motu case related to examining the award of additional 20 marks to Hafiz-e-Quran candidates applying for enrolment to an MBBS/BDS degree. Justice Isa headed the bench comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Shahid Waheed.

CJP Bandial had formed the three-member special bench to hear the case, but Justice Isa objected to the constitution of the bench.

Justice Waheed — who also wrote a dissenting note against the order — raised objections, saying: "The points raised and discussed in the order were not subject to the case."

Read more: Senior judges’ divergent views expose tensions

The order, penned by Justice Isa, mentioned: "The Supreme Court Rules, 1980 (the Rules) neither permit nor envisage special benches. However, a Special Bench comprising of three Judges was constituted to hear this case."

The majority order said the top court comprises the CJP and all judges.

"The Constitution did not grant the Chief Justice unilateral and arbitrary power to decide the above matters. With respect, the Chief Justice cannot substitute his personal wisdom with that of the Constitution," the order stated.

Collective determination by the chief justice and the judges of the apex court could also not be assumed by an individual, albeit the chief justice, the order said.

The SC registrar said that the order violated the rules laid down by a five-member judgement.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ