–SJC summons AGP for assistance in reference against two senior judges
–References accuse both judges of concealing their assets, recommends action against them under Article 209
–SCBA president says will strongly oppose govt’s reference against Justice Isa, calls for ending ‘character assassination’ of honorable judge
Under the SJC procedure of inquiry 2005, the council may require the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) or any other lawyer to appear and assist it in relation to smooth and efficient conduct of proceedings.
About procedure of the SJC at this stage , former vice president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Chaudhry Ikram said that after preliminary hearing of the matter, the SJC may issue notices to the two judges, if required.
The AGP has been summoned by the council on June 14.
According to reports, the references accuse the two judges — Supreme Court’s Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Sindh High Court (SHC) judge Justice Karim Khan Agha — of concealing their assets and recommends action against them under Article 209 of the constitution.
The case was reportedly prepared by the Law Ministry with help from a former PCO judge. The government has also registered a complaint against some high court judges who own foreign properties.
Justice Isa, an outspoken and uncompromising judge, had written a letter to President Arif Alvi on Wednesday after reports concerning a reference against him made round in mainstream media. In the letter, he had asked the president to let him know if these reports hold truth.
“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 could let me know whether this is correct and if it is, then provide me with a copy of the alleged reference,” media reports quoted the letter to the president as saying.
Justice Isa, who is in line to become the chief justice, had also expressed displeasure over leaking the letter to media, saying “selective leaks” were tantamount to character assassination, which also undermines his right to a fair trial as well as compromise the dignity of the judiciary.
SCBA TO OPPOSE REFERENCE:
Meanwhile, Amanullah Kanrani, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), said if a reference came against Justice Isa, then they would fully oppose it.
Kanrani said so while speaking to media after presiding over a meeting of the SCBA at the apex court.
“We will back the judiciary against the government’s move,” he said, demanding an explanation from the government and asking it to back off.
The SCBA president said a person may have personal grievances with the honourable judge [Justice Isa], but there was no truth in reports surfacing on the media.
He said he knew the family of the SC judge, calling for cessation of “character assassination” of Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
Kanrani said the SCBA stands by the judiciary and it would take a stance reflecting the will of the nation.
FAIZABAD SIT-IN VERDICT:
Many observers see the reference as an attempt to intimidate Justice Isa over his verdict pertaining to Faizabad sit-in. Additional Attorney General Zahid F Ebrahim on Wednesday resigned from his post, accusing the government of attempting to “browbeat the judiciary”.
The superior judge had given a verdict pertaining to the sit-in, which was highly critical of the military’s involvement in political activities and asked it to remain within the constitutional ambit.
It had directed the Defence Ministry and chiefs of the army, navy and air force to penalise the personnel under their command found to have violated their oath.
His verdict also criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for 2014 sit-in that, according to the verdict, had set a precedent for the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) protest in the capital that had paralysed the twin cities for over 20 days.
The verdict had ruffled many a feather and at least three review petitions were filed against the verdict. In a petition filed by PTI, it said the judgement “suffers from defects” and “needs to be reviewed to avoid injustice”.
The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) approached the court through the Ministry of Defence to contest the verdict.
The petition, filed by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan and Advocate Nawaz Chaudhry, had stated that the faith that some military “officers are violating the fundamental rights of the citizens, supporting a particular party and doling out cash to extremists” could “affect the rank and file’s morale”
It had claimed that the said judgement contains “adverse observations and negative declaratory remarks” regarding the armed forces, for it could “affect their morale”. Sheikh Rasheed of the Awami Muslim League also filed a review plea against the verdict.