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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Justice Isa: Should judges be required by law to declare their assets?

The Supreme Court judge, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and his family members have declared their assets, becoming the first judge of the country's top court who made his belongings public.

No law requires judges to disclose family assets, SC informed

Justice Isa revealing his and his family’s assets came as a surprise, for only 6 months prior, counsel for Isa, Babar Sattar had declared that “there is no such legal obligation on judges to disclose their family members’ properties.”

The Supreme Court judge, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and his family members have declared their assets, becoming the first judge of the country’s top court who made his belongings public. Justice Isa made his assets public in the light of a request filed by the Women’s Action Forum (WAF) where they invoked Article 19-A of the Constitution and the Right to Information laws to seek the information from, amongst others, the judges of the Supreme Court. Muhammad Tauseef Khan, APS to Justice Isa, released the information about Justice Isa and his family members on Thursday.

Justice Isa’s assets and belongings

Justice Isa received Rs54.34 million in account of salaries for fiscal years 2018-19-2020, while he paid Rs6.7 million as tax, according to information released. The SC judge revealed that his income remained at Rs15.11 million for the year 2018, Rs17.145 million for 2019 and Rs21.237 million for fiscal year 2020. He paid Rs2.2 million as tax in 2018, Rs1.8 million in 2019 and Rs2.3 million in 2020.

In his personal belongings, Justice Isa revealed that he owned a residential plot of 800 square yards in Phase 2 of the Defence Housing Authority, Karachi, which he bought when he was practicing law and on which he built a house. He also owned an 800 square yards residential open plot in Phase 2 of the Defence Housing Authority, Karachi. He owned a 200 yards commercial plot in Phase 5, Defence Housing Authority, Karachi, which he bought when he was practicing law, according to information exclusively made available with this correspondent.

Read More: SC issues notice to Maulvi Iftikhar who said “Justice Isa should be shot publicly”

He also shared details of his property inherited from his father, the late Qazi Mohammad Isa, including half-share in a plot situated in Ziarat, Baluchistan, next to the Quaid’s Residency, a sizable portion of which has been illegally encroached by the government. He also showed an old house in his assets which measured one canal in Block B, Phase I, Defence Housing Authority, Lahore, which is rented out and was bought from the partial utilisation of the sale proceeds of his share in two acres house and land situated at two Lytoon Road, Quetta City, which was sold.

Justice Isa has also revealed an account worth Rs41.4 million and foreign currency accounts worth Rs 4.1 million in Pak rupees. He also owned three vehicles — Honda Accord, Honda Civic and Mini Jeep.

Justice Isa declares his perks and privileges

He also showed his official perks and privileges accordingly. He has had an official residence in Islamabad, two servants, one cook, part-time gardener and cleaners, Honda Civic 2017 model and 2015 model with up to 600 liters of petrol and free medical treatment at approved hospitals.

Some perks and other benefits were offered but according to Justice Isa he did not avail them. He did not get plots neither as a judge of SC nor as the Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court. However, he was offered a plot but he declined the offer. Prohibited Bore Weapons were also offered by the Ministry of Interior in 2019 but he refused the offer.

On pension and post-retirement benefits, he revealed that the pension determined on the basis of years of service. After retirement, an SC judge gets one driver and one orderly and a police guard at his residence.

The retired judge also gets 300 free local calls, 2,000 units of electricity, 25HM of gas, water and 300 liters of petrol per month. If the above are availed, then he has to provide free work of arbitration involving government interest without charging a fee. An official car in use can also be purchased at the depreciated value by the retired judge and 20 percent medical allowance.

Justice Isa’s family’s assets were also revealed

About his wife, Justice Isa said his wife, Sarina Isa, is not his dependent and files her own income tax returns in the United Kingdom and in Pakistan. His wife on his request also disclosed the information in which she showed her immovable properties namely 50-Coniston Court in London, 40-Oakdale Road, London and 90-Adelaide Road, London.

Sarina Isa has had savings worth Rs21,650,000 in the National Savings Center, DHA Karachi. Sarina Isa also has had an investment worth Rs25,454,310. Her foreign income remained Rs4,731,076 in tax year 2019. Sarina Isa also has had Rs25,454,310 in her foreign bank account in England, added the official. Justice Isa’s wife further revealed that she paid over Rs2.4 million as tax in the past three years.

In her agriculture property, she showed 24.7 acres land at Deh Korar, Tapa Zangipur, Jacobabad. She also showed another piece of land of 148.21 acres in Jacobabad. The agriculture land was also shown in Dera Murad Jamali, commercial and industrial land in Shah Latif Town in Karachi and Clifton.

About her daughter, who is 33 years old, Mrs Isa revealed that she paid over Rs2 million as tax in the past three years where she had income of around Rs16 million during this period. She said her son lives in London and he told her that he is a tax compliant with UK tax laws.