Chief Justice of Pakistan, Asif Saeed Khosa said the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) proceedings against Supreme Court judge Qazi Faez Isa and Sindh High Court (SHC) KK Agha have been suspended until the top court adjudicates on the pleas contesting the presidential references against the judges. Justice Isa has challenged the previous decision of the SJC concerning misconduct.
The CJP made these comments speaking at a ceremony in Islamabad, marking the start of the judicial year, said BBC Urdu in a report.
Prominent lawyer Babar Sattar noted that the case of Justice Isa been brought to media which is a violation of his fundamental rights.
At least six petitions were filed in the SC challenging the SJC proceedings against the judges. The pleas were filed by the Pakistan Bar Council, Supreme Court Bar Association, Balochistan High Court Bar Association and Justice Isa himself. In his petition in the SC, Justice Isa said sought the formation of a full court to hear the references filed against him while accusing Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa of “showing personal bias against him. The language used by the chief justice [of Pakistan] in the [Supreme Judicial] Council’s order sadly demonstrates his lordship’s bias and prejudice towards him [Justice Isa],” the plea states.
References against Justice Isa
The President has sent a reference against Justice Isa of the SC for alleged misconduct. According to sources, Justice Isa did not mention the foreign assets of his wife in his official document.
According to legal experts, the said judge was not legally bound to mention the assets of his independent wife. Salman Akram Raja, Advocate SC, said.
Wealth statement required of a person mandates disclosure of assets held by a spouse only if these were obtained through funds provided by that person & are held as benami assets. Assets purchased by a spouse in her own right are to be disclosed only in her wealth statement.
— salman akram raja (@salmanAraja) May 30, 2019
Justice Isa has so far received two show-cause notices on separate charges. According to the report, the SJC in its fresh notice has asked Justice Isa to explain his conduct for writing letters to the president of Pakistan. It is learnt that SC judge has been given 14 days to submit his reply.
A Lahore-based lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt had filed a complaint against Justice Isa for violating the code of conduct for members of the judiciary by “writing letters to the president of Pakistan and sharing it with the media”.
It is important to note that Justice Qazi Faez Isa wrote a letter to the President of Pakistan seeking clarity if the government has actually filed a reference against him over the allegations of misconduct. Justice Isa is known for his upright and strong legal position in many controversial cases. He is also famous for powerful and legally insightful dissenting notes.
According to the details, in the letter, Justice Isa has noted that “I have to come to learn that the government sources are stating that a reference has been filed against me under Article 209 of the Constitution. I will be obliged if you (the president) could let me know whether this is correct and if it is, then provides me with a copy of the alleged reference.”
According to the source, Justice Isa further wrote, “I am confident that you will agree that if a reference has been filed and I have been called upon to submit a reply, only then to the permission of the Supreme Judicial Council, the government may disclose the reference and my response thereto.”
Justice Isa further conveyed to the President that “selective leaks amount to character assassination” jeopardize his right to due process and fair trial, and undermines the institution of the judiciary.
The opinion is divided with regard to the implications of the reference filed against Justice Isa. Some analysts believe that the government is going to face a tough time since it has decided to question the integrity of a judge who is known for being upright and tough on spy agencies and their role in the political process.
Learnt about gist of Reference filed against Justice Isa.This is proving to be a tough nut to crack for Fed Govt—Herculean tasks & many stumbling blocks to come in way of her team—looks a litmus test for SJC too in its 46yrs history to remove a SC judge for algdly havng offshore.
— Zahid Gishkori (@ZahidGishkori) June 9, 2019
Prominent lawyer Babar Sattar noted that the case of Justice Isa been brought to media which is a violation of his fundamental rights. Babar wrote his opinion in severe tweets.
The basis of reference filed by PM/President (in exercise of public authority) against Isa J & how he's been subjected to media trial & brought into disrepute before commencement of SJC proceedings is as relevant as allegations against him. I state the issue in this thread 1/11
— Babar Sattar (@Babar_Sattar) June 7, 2019
However, political commentators Sabir Shakir and Arif Hameed Bhatti maintain that a reference has been filed as per the law and the honorable judge has been given a due right to defend himself. “There is no question of protest or violation of law. Has the government breached any law? On what point, the lawyers shall call a strike?” they asked.