“The federal government is at fault”, observes Justice Sajjad Ali Shah

The federal government submitted a document before the Supreme Court of Pakistan which was available neither in the reference nor with the apex court. The court is yet to determine whether a document submitted at this stage can be looked at or not. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah notes the federal government is at fault.

Justice Faez Isa case

Dr. Farogh Nasim, legal counsel for the federation, surprised the Supreme Court on Tuesday by presenting a document on the basis of which the entire presidential reference on misconduct was moved against Justice Qazi Faez Isa. Interestingly, the document was available neither in the reference nor with the apex court. The bench was surprised to see the new document Justice Faez Isa case and asked Dr. Nasim how he got it.

When asked, Dr. Nasim conveniently shifted the entire burden on former attorney general Anwar Mansoor, saying it might be the oversight of his office not to place the document on record. He also maintained that he was engaged by the federal government at the eleventh hour therefore he quickly looked at the material pertaining to the case. Notably, Dr. Nasim was serving as a law minister and resigned just two days ago to present the federal government in Justice Faez Isa case.

However, Dawn, Pakistan’s respected daily, reported that when it approached ex-AG Anwar Mansoor for comments, he said he would not make any at this point.

Read More: Justice Faez Isa Reference: Can Farogh Naseem represent the federation?

The newspaper also claimed that the purported document presumably is a piece of evidence that journalist Abdul Waheed Dogar had supposedly annexed along with his April 10, 2019 complaint filed with the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) showing the United Kingdom’s land registry of the offshore properties believed to be owned by the wife and children of Justice Isa.

Justice Isa’s counsel Muneer A. Malik, who was connected from the Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry via video link, objected by saying that the petitioner’s side still did not have a copy of the document.

Advocate Malik spent two days only to highlight that this document, if made available, would show the basis on which the entire reference was made, recalled Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, adding that the counsel had made “us learn by heart about the procedure for collecting the property documents from the UK”.

He also recalled that even the former AG was not aware of this document when asked by the court and not even Dr Nasim who was present on some hearing dates. “Certainly, the federal government is at fault,” Justice Shah observed.

Advocate Iftikhar Gillani, representing the Peshawar High Court Bar Association, objected to presentation of the document at this stage, recalling that “we were begging for the document but it was not provided; therefore, it should not be looked at now”.

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

Justice Bandial, however, suggested to Dr Nasim to satisfy the court, when he would resume his arguments on Wednesday, whether a document retrieved or collected through illegal means could be relied upon and why the complaint was sent directly to the ARU and not to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

Reference against Justice Isa

According to details, a full-court bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed is hearing Justice Isa’s petitions challenging the presidential reference against him.

Justice Isa has questioned the eligibility of SAPM Shahzad Akbar’s appointment as the head of the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) and for public office. Justice Isa has raised some points on what experts believe to be ‘some valid technical grounds’ and maintained that the appointment of the SAPM was illegal.

The Supreme Court inquired about where the ARU received funds from for initiating an investigation in Justice Faez Isa case. The court maintained that there can be no investigation through illegal means to obtain personal information.

Read More: Who has the jurisdiction to decide on Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s misconduct?

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.

Notably, the reference filed against Justice Isa alleges 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.

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