News Analysis |
In an interesting development, Supreme Court judge Qazi Faez Isa has requested the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to make his reply public as the allegations leveled against him are known to the public. Justice Isa has moved two applications to SJC chairman/Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, wherein he made two requests.
The first request is that the SJC should make his reply public as the allegations against him are known in the public space. Secondly, he pleaded that the council should share evidentiary sources/relevant material on the basis of which show-cause notice has been issued to him.
— Times of lsIamabad (@TimesofIslambad) July 18, 2019
Justice Isa had been accused of possessing three properties in the United Kingdom in the name of his wife and children which were not disclosed in his wealth statements. Justice Isa is known for his upright and strong legal positions on several issues. He came under limelight when he disagreed and wrote strong-worded dissenting notes during the lordship of former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar.
Moreover, active lawyers belonging to both Hamid Khan Group and Asma Jahangir Group are backing Justice Isa. The representatives of lawyers are on the same page that reference is based on mala fide and is against ‘independent judges’.
Show-cause notices to Justice Isa
A few days ago, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has issued another show-cause notice to Supreme Court (SC) Justice Qazi Faez Isa, this time for “writing letters to President Arif Alvi” after a presidential reference was filed against him, local media reports claimed on Thursday. The report also claimed that the judge is yet to respond to the earlier notice of the council.
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”.
Divided expert opinion?
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 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 violation of his fundamental rights. Babar wrote his opinion in several 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 the law. Has the government breached any law? On what point, the lawyers shall call a strike?” they asked.
Who will represent Justice Isa?
No legal team has been hired by justice Isa as yet. There are some reports suggest that the Supreme Court Bar Association lawyer Munir A Malik would likely lead the legal team, which would contest Justice Isa’s case before the Supreme Judicial Council and the Supreme Court. Currently, he is in the United States (US) and is likely to land in Pakistan on July 29.
However, it is yet to be seen whether Justice Isa hires any lawyers or decides to appear himself before the SJC.