Supreme Court issued notices to President and Prime Minister

Can the President and PM who enjoy constitutional immunity be called in the case? SC is to deliberate on complex legal matters in Justice Isa’s case

Notices

The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued notices to the President and the Prime Minister who are among the many respondents in a set of petitions filed against the filing of a presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa. It is believed that the court is committed not linger the case since it involves one of the sitting judges of the apex court.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the head of the bench, the full court hearing a set of petitions against the filing of the presidential reference against Justice Isa observed during Tuesday’s brief proceedings that the question whether the president and the prime minister could be implicated as a party in the petitions challenging the reference against a sitting judge when both enjoyed constitutional immunity, needed to be examined.

Justice Bandial made these observations after consulting fellow judges except for Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah who could not attend the hearing because he was abroad.

The court issued notices to the respondents in the petitions with the observation that the points highlighted in the petitions deserved consideration and it was a good case to issue notices to the respondents.

There is no question of protest or violation of the law. Has the government breached any law? On what point, the lawyers shall call a strike?

Moved by Justice Isa, one of the petitioner, has named as respondents President Arif Alvi, federal government through secretary law, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Law Minister Muhammad Farogh Nasim, Attorney General (AG), the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), SJC Secretary Arbab Muhammad Arif, Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) Chairman Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Legal Expert of ARU Ziaul Mustafa Nasim, Pakistan Bar Council and Supreme Court Bar Association and others.

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.

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 the 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.

Read more: PBC asks CJP not to hear presidential reference against Justice Isa

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.

Experts Differ

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.

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.

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 the law. Has the government breached any law? On what point, the lawyers shall call a strike?” they asked.

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