Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar on Friday said that the government was satisfied over the Supreme Court’s (SC) judgment on Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s petition challenging the presidential reference under Article 209 of the Constitution. The pertinent question is will the government file a review petition after have its references quashed by the apex court.
Dr. Farogh Naseem, federation’s lawyer and former Law Minister, also said that “although this case was not about anyone’s win or defeat yet his team has won the case”. He maintained that Justice Isa’s family has to explain as to how they acquired the properties in the UK. “If they can adequately explain the source of income, the matter shall end there,” he said.
Mr. Akbar said this while addressing a press conference flanked by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz after a 10-member larger SC bench quashed the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa for non-disclosure of his family members’ properties in his wealth statements.
“It was a sensitive issue and it was not anyone’s victory or defeat as such processes took place in a democracy,” he said, adding the government had no plan to file a review petition against the verdict.
He also said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), its Chairman Imran Khan, and he himself as an advocate, had great respect for the honourable superior court judges, and independence of the judiciary. “The PTI believes in the separation of judiciary, executive and legislature as was envisaged in the Constitution,” he added.
The SAPM said that under Article 209, there were three ways to file a reference against a judge. Either the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) itself takes notice or the government files a reference or any person approaches the council for action against a judge, he added.
There was a mechanism of accountability of every institution and the superior judiciary was answerable only to the SJC comprising five senior judges of the superior judiciary, he maintained.
Justice Faez Isa: SC quashes ‘invalid’ reference
The SC on Friday dismissed the presidential reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa for non-disclosure of family members’ properties in his wealth statement.
The reference filed against Justice Isa by the government in May last year alleged 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 his wealth returns. Justice Isa contested the allegation, saying he is not a beneficial owner of the flats — neither directly nor indirectly.
Through his petition, Justice Isa pleaded before the apex court to consider and declare that the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) constituted by the government to investigate his family’s properties was illegal and working without any legal effect and any of the actions taken by the unit with regard to the reference against the petitioner judge and his family was thereby illegal and of no legal effect.
The petition also claimed that no search was ever conducted and the names and property details of the petitioner’s family were gathered through surveillance.
A 10-member full court bench led by Justice Umar Ata Bandial announced the short verdict in the case at 4 pm. “[The reference] is declared to be of no legal effect whatsoever and stands quashed,” read the judgement.
The top court, accepting Justice Faez Isa’s petitions seeking the reference’s dismissal, also withdrew a show-cause notice issued to Justice Isa. The show-cause notice was issued by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to Justice Isa in July last year for “writing letters to President Arif Alvi” after the presidential reference was filed against him.
The short order directed that the Inland Revenue Commissioner send a notice to the judge’s wife and children within seven days, asking them to give explanations about the nature and source of funding for three properties in their names in the United Kingdom. Shortly, the matter is still pending.
It is yet to be seen how the FBR deal with the matter and what order it finally passes before sending it to the SJC which will determine the fate of Justice Faez Isa.