–CJP forms seven-member bench headed by Justice Bandial
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday constituted a larger bench headed by Justice Umar Atta Bandial to hear SC judge Faez Isa’s constitutional petition against the misconduct reference filed against him at the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
The seven-member bench constituted by the chief justice upon Justice Isa’s request will take up the plea on Sept 17.
Beside Justice Bandial, other members of the bench include Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.
In his petition in the SC, Justice Isa had sought the formation of a full-court bench to hear the references filed against him, accusing Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa of “showing personal bias against him”.
“The language used by the chief justice [of Pakistan] in the [Supreme Judicial] Council’s order sadly demonstrates his lordship’s bias and prejudice towards him [Justice Isa],” the plea had stated.
Different superior bars including Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) had challenged the references filed against Justice Isa, contending that the references are motivated by the judge’s verdict in the Faizabad sit-in case.
Last month, 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 CJP Asif Saeed Khosa, had 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 him from his position.
The dismissed reference was filed after he had written a letter to Alvi 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 had 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.
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 had also 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”.