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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Justice Faez Isa case: Where did Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) received funds from? SC

The SC is now to deal with the important question; who funded the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU)  in order to carry out an investigation against Justice Qazi Faez Isa?

The Supreme Court inquired about where had the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) received funds from for initiating an investigation against Justice Qazi Faez Isa. The court maintained that there can be no investigation through illegal means to obtain personal information.

Legal experts believe that the court may ask the federal government to explain its position on the matter. “This is not an ordinary matter. The court must look into it,” a lawyer said. It is argued that the SC is likely to ascertain the facts whether the reference has been filed on mala-fide intentions or not.

According to the details, the question was raised by Justice Maqbool Baqar as a 10-judge full-court, led by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, resumed hearing of the case pertaining to the presidential reference against Justice Isa. Muneer A Malik, Justice Isa’s counsel, raised questions about the legal status of the ARU.

Mr. Malik said that Special Assistant to the PM on Accountability Shahzad Akbar had conducted an investigation against the judge and his family without any legal authority to do so and accessed classified information about their tax details. “The reference was prepared after illegally collecting material against him. It has been conceded in the reference that ARU had received a complaint against the judge and the chairman of the unit took it to the law minister rather than the prime minister or the cabinet,” he added.

Read more: Justice Qazi Isa wants explanation; slams Govt. for ‘character assassination’

Justice Isa’s lawyer further said the investigation was started on the instructions of the law minister. “My client was called and asked to provide details of his assets. He provided online documents of the house in London,” he added.

A letter was written to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman seeking tax details of the judge and his family. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) were also given similar instructions.
The lawyer said in addition, a private agency was hired in London to conduct an investigation against the judge.

It is important to recall that the government has informed the SC that Justice Qazi Faez Isa was the ‘ostensible owner’ of three properties in the United Kingdom as his family members purchased the assets at a time when they had no independent source of income. The government in its response lamented over the behavior of Justice Isa who instead of addressing the questions raised in the reference started vilifying the complainant.

The government’s response states that instead of providing answers, Justice Isa “took a very evasive stand and started vilifying and castigating the complainant”.

Justice Isa’s Strong Judgment

Justice Isa is said to be facing ‘consequences’ after he delivered a strong-worded verdict in the Faizabad sit-in case. The judgment authored by Justice Isa drew some broad and important conclusions. For example, the court has directed the federal and provincial governments to monitor and prosecute those advocating hate, extremism, and terrorism. It also ordered the government ─ through the defense ministry and respective chiefs of the armed forces ─ to initiate action against armed forces’ personnel found to have violated their oath.

The judgment further states that any person who issues an edict or fatwa that “harms another or puts another in harm’s way must be criminally prosecuted under the Pakistan Penal Code, the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, and/or the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.”

Read more: Is PTI Govt harassing Justice Qazi Faez Isa for his Strong Judgments?

Finally, the judgment states that Inter-Services Intelligence, the Intelligence Bureau, Military Intelligence and the Inter-Services Public Relations “must not exceed their respective mandates”. It also reinforced the idea of freedom of speech which, the court said, is also subject to the law.

Many in Pakistan believe that he is now being targeted for his judgment which also made PTI a part of it and slammed it for using the religious card to target the then-government of PML-N. The top court has to determine whether such speculation holds some ground or not. If yes, the apex court is expected to provide more constitutional security to its judges so that they may pronounce more firm and strong judgments.