SC adjourns Justice Qazi Isa’s petition till today

SC adjourns Justice Qazi Isa’s petition till today

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned hearing of Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s petition challenging the presidential reference filed against him over alleged non-disclosure of assets in his wealth statement till Wednesday (03 June 2020).

A ten-member larger SC bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed heard the case regarding proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa alleges that he acquired three properties in London on lease in the name of his wife and children between 2011 and 2015, but did not disclose them in wealth returns.

During the course of proceedings, Dr Farogh Naseem, counsel  for the Federal Government, submitted fresh documents regarding collection of evidence against Justice Isa.

The court asked why did the government not place such documents before it when Justice Isa’s counsel Muneer A Malik was questioning the manner wherein the material was being collected against Justice Isa.

Advocate Muneer Malik while referring to the fresh application objected over Dr Naseem representing the Federal Government. However, the bench decided to pass appropriate orders on Justice Isa’s application later.

The court asked Dr Farogh Naseen to explain the process through which the material was gathered to file a reference against Justice Isa.

The bench further questioned as to why the complaint was filed before the Assets Recovery Units (ARU) and not before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), that could have initiated suo motu proceedings against the judge.

Dr Farogh Naseem responded that Justice Qazi Faez Isa did not provide the money trail for purchasing the properties owned by his wife and children abroad.

He said the judge has admitted that his family owned properties abroad, but he did not provide a money trail to establish how the money was sent abroad to purchase the flats. A judge should be blameless as per the judges’ code of conduct, he added.

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah asked the counsel to prove that the properties were benami and were funded by Justice Isa. “You have to establish that the children and spouse are dependent on the SC judge,” he added. Whether the judge would be answerable if his son purchased the property outside the country independently, he questioned.

Farogh Naseem responded that the burden to prove that the properties were benami or the funds to purchase them were provided by Justice Isa was not on the Federal Government. The tax record showed that the SC judge’s spouse had no income to purchase the flats in London, he claimed.

Justice Bandial observed that the petitioner judge said his spouse was a taxpayer and she should be asked about the source of funds used to purchase the properties.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar asked whether the Federal Government was deviating from the reference wherein it was only alleged that Justice Qazi Faez Isa violated the income tax law by not disclosing his family members’ properties in his wealth statement. There was no mention about the money trail in the reference, he added.

However, Naseem also objected that when the Supreme Judicial Council issued a show cause notice then the jurisdiction of the apex court was barred from examining the matter in view of Article 211 of the Constitution.

He stated that the apex court had intervened in the matter of former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry because no show cause notice was issued to him. However, in the present case, a show cause notice had already been issued to Justice Isa, he added.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar while referring to a case in the United Kingdom, observed that if the foundation of the reference was illegal then the court might declare the reference as just a blank paper, as stated by the British Supreme Court.

Justice Faisal Arab asked whether it was mandatory for the SJC to issue a show cause notice to a judge on a presidential reference. He said if something was based on malafide intentions then the SC could intervene in the matter at any stage and even after completion of the SJC inquiry against the judge.

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