ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Bar Council (PBS) on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court (SC) seeking recusal of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa from hearing the presidential reference against SC Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
It is pertinent to mention here that the top judge is the Supreme Judicial Council’s (SJC) chairman whereas the development is a consequence of an informal meeting between Justice Khosa and Justice Isa wherein they discussed the presidential reference.
“Apart from it after admitting certain deliberations in the order dated 19-08-2019 of SJC, it may not be appropriate to remain a part of SJC by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan,” reads the PBC petition.
Maintaining that the “references are primarily motivated by his authorship of the Inter alia Faizabad judgement and others which have aroused great resentment on part of the ruling parties and within the visible and invisible branches of the Government”, the petition seeks a restraining order against the SJC from proceeding against the presidential reference.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) had dismissed a reference filed against Justice Isa for writing letters to President Arif Alvi over a misconduct reference filed against him for allegedly possessing undisclosed foreign properties.
A five-member bench of the SJC, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa, read out the verdict on the reference before the court. The chief justice said that the court did not find the matter “serious enough” to constitute misconduct or to remove the Supreme Court (SC) judge from his position.
In May, after reports of the reference hit the television screens, the senior judge wrote to the president, asking him whether the reports were true. He said that the selective leaks of the reference to the media amounted to his character assassination and were jeopardising his right to a fair trial. The judge had also asked for a copy of the reference. Later, Waheed Shahzad Butt, a lawyer from Lahore, filed a reference before the council, stating that the judge had violated the code of conduct by writing letters to the president.
“We have also questioned the informant (Butt) appearing before us in person today in that regard and he has not been able to produce anything before us to establish that the respondent-Judge (Justice Isa) had revealed or disclosed anything about his relevant letters to anybody,” the SJC noted in its conclusions.
The council said that the absence of such an allegation against Justice Isa reduces the reference to “merely to writing of private letters by him to the President”, which “may not ipso facto amount to misconduct on the part of the Judge”.
“The purpose or the contents of such letters might appear to some to be oblique or objectionable but such letters were merely private letters not shown to be meant or intended to be read by anybody other than the addressee and those to whom they had been copied,” it noted.
Regarding the contents of the letter, the council said the judge might have “subjectively felt a sense of persecution” after a presidential reference was filed against him.
It also noted that Justice Isa was under stress due to the medical condition of his daughter and father-in-law, which “might have aggravated his sense of harassment and might have contributed towards outrunning of his discretion”.
“In this view of the matter, the alleged impropriety in the private letters written by the respondent-Judge to the President has not been found by us to be serious or grave enough to constitute misconduct sufficient for his removal from the exalted office of a Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” SJC had concluded.
Moreover, the current petition is the fourth petition filed against the presidential reference against Justice Isa seeking his removal for non-disclosure of his family’s assets in his wealth statements. Justice Isa, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and senior lawyer of the Balochistan High Court Abid Hassan Minto have challenged it in the top court.