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On what grounds is Justice Isa bound to disclose family’s properties, asks SC

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: Justice Umar Ata Bandial of the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday that there was no allegation of corruption or dishonesty against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

Justice Isa’s petition against the reference and the proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council against him was heard before a full bench of the Supreme Court.

In response to the federal government’s counsel, Dr Farogh Naseem’s, argument that Justice Isa had not provided the money trail for the properties of his family members, Justice Bandial observed that there was no allegation of corruption or money attained through illegal means against Justice Isa.

He noted that undeclared foreign property comes under the purview of the tax law, and asked Dr Naseem to explain the legal reasons on the basis of which Justice Isa was bound to disclose his family properties. Justice Bandial asked whether the accused Supreme Court judge had carried out any misconduct.

He further said that the reference cannot be filed on tax violation and the case came under the purview of Article 209 of the Constitution of Pakistan – which pertains to action against a judge when he has been guilty of misconduct.

Justice Bandial observed that Justice Isa had declared income enough to purchase these properties in 2008-2009.

The federal government’s lawyer maintained that proceedings were initiated against a judge in India when the properties of his family members were not declared.

However, Justice Bandial asked Dr Naseem to point towards Pakistani law which puts a legal obligation on the accused judge to disclose properties of his family members.

On being questioned on proceedings under the tax law, the federal counsel maintained that officials of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) were too afraid to proceed against Justice Isa and his family members. He stated before the court that FBR officials refused to act until the conclusion of the Supreme Judicial Council’s proceedings.

Another judge on the bench hearing the case, Justice Maqbool Baqar, inquired what prompted the federal government to file the reference against Justice Isa.

Justice Baqar observed that there was a concern by the petitioner that the reference was filed because certain quarters were unhappy with one of the verdicts authored by Justice Isa. Review petitions were also filed against the ruling of Justice Isa and questions of misconduct were raised.

Justice Baqar further asked whether the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) had checked the credentials of the journalist, Abdul Hameed Dogar, who had first given the information on these properties of the apex court’s judge’s family.

“Have you asked who gave him this information and what was his background,” asked Justice Baqar. Many things happen through the divine in this country, he observed.

Dr Naseem replied that Dogar had refused to disclose his source, and argued that sources are big assets for journalists.

Meanwhile, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah of the SC questioned Dr Naseem’s argument that Justice Isa had revealed everything except the source of funds to purchase these flats and how those funds were transferred to the United Kingdom. Justice Shah asked why Justice Isa should have to reveal the money trail. Tell us which law bounds him to reveal the source of these funds, he asked.

Justice Shah said that the petitioner was maintaining that his family members were independent and they should be approached about the source of funds.

He further asked the federal counsel to furnish details of complaints of individuals which are received by the ARU against public office holders and the actions which are initiated against such.

The federal lawyer read out the Supreme Judicial Counsel’s showcause notice stating that Justice Isa had filed the reply over the notice therefore his petition against the reference was not maintainable.

The court adjourned the hearing till tomorrow.

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