–Counsel says judge being targeted over Faizabad verdict that questioned role of security agencies in TLP’s sit-in
–Justice Isa says not bound to furnish money trail of properties owned by independent family members
ISLAMABAD: As a full court bench of the Supreme Court (SC) took up a case against Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Monday, his counsel Muneer A Malik claimed the reference against the SC judge stemmed out of the “inconvenient truth and observations” made by the judge in the Faizabad verdict.
During the hearing, Malik told the court that a particular mindset was targeting the top court judge through coordinated efforts after the verdict.
A 10-judge full court led by Justice Umar Ata Bandial is hearing a set of petitions challenging the presidential reference filed against Justice Isa over alleged non-disclosure of assets in his wealth statement.
The verdict had questioned the role of security agencies in brokering an agreement between the far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and the government, the counsel said, adding that following the verdict multiple pleas were filed against the judge.
“Eight review petitions were filed against the SC decision. The petitions were part of a coordinated exercise as they stated that the judgement ‘demoralised’ the armed forces,” he said.
Advocate Malik said that both the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had filed applications against Justice Isa in the aftermath of the Faizabad sit-in case verdict.
Both parties had raised the same type of questions in their pleas. Prime Minister Imran Khan belongs to the PTI while the law minister [Farogh Naseem] belongs to the MQM-P, he said. The federal government initiated the reference through the law ministry.
In a comment on the applications filed by the both parties, Justice Faisal Arab said it appeared that both the parties had exchanged drafts before filing the petitions and used the same computers, whereas Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that the same font was used in both the applications.
He raised a question about the gap between the verdict on Faizabad sit-in and the reference against Justice Isa.
Advocate Munir said that the court received an application by Waheed Dogar on April 10 while the Faizabad sit-in case was decided on February 26.
“The review petitions, filed in March, are still pending. In April, a complaint was filed in the Asset Recovery Unit alleging non-disclosure of foreign assets in the wealth statement of Justice Isa,” Malik informed the full bench.
Talking about the assets that the reference claimed Justice Isa had failed to disclose, Advocate Malik said Justice Isa’s wife had purchased the first flat in 2004, while the petitioner became a judge in 2009. His assets were verified when he was sworn in as a judge, said the lawyer.
The second and third properties were bought in 2013 by his offspring when the judge was serving as the chief justice of the Balochistan High Court.
“Justice Isa is not a beneficial owner of the flats — neither direct nor indirect,” Advocate Malik contested the claim that accused the judge of holding benami properties. The counsel continued that there was no allegation of corruption and dishonesty.
Both Justice Isa and President Arif Alvi keep constitutional posts, he said, expressing his hope that the two would take care of the decorum of their posts.
Advocate Malik, however, put it on the record that his client had reservations over the expenditures by some people enjoying high constitutional posts.
“No one, including Justice Isa, is above the law,” he said, adding that the way the SJC had taken action would also be exposed.
Malik said that a character assassination campaign against Justice Isa, who is supposed to be the chief justice in the future, has been going on since May 28.
“The lawyers’ action committee and the assets recovery commission also talk about the reference. The president and the special assistant to the prime minister on information also talked about the presidential reference. [But] Justice Isa has now got a chance to defend himself in the court,” he said.
The hearing witnessed chaos when a lawyer, Ajmal Mahmood, took the rostrum to inquire about a misconduct complaint he had filed against Justice Bandial before the Supreme Judicial Council.
He questioned how Justice Bandial could be hearing cases when a complaint was pending against him.
Supreme Court Bar Association President Amanullah Kanrani attempted to resolve the matter by asking the lawyer to leave the rostrum.
Justice Bandial said the misconduct complaint against him had already been dismissed by the SJC.
He did not issue a contempt notice to the lawyer.
The hearing was adjourned till Tuesday, October 15.
‘WIFE AND KIDS INDEPENDENT’:
Justice Qazi Faez Isa, in his rejoinder to the government’s statement, has stated that he is not bound to furnish the money trail of the properties owned by his family members as they are no longer his dependents.
Justice Isa made the revelation in a reply to the top court regarding the presidential reference filed against him, and maintained that the charges against him seek to damage his reputation.
According to the judge, he owns a home of 1600 square yards in Karachi that has been empty for the past ten years as he has taken up state residences in his capacity as a judge.
Justice Isa said that he has no properties in London or any other country outside Pakistan, and also noted that contrary to reports, his wife does not hold dual citizenship.
With regards to the properties under question, Justice Isa said that the first property was bought for Rs20.6 million in 2004, while the other two in 2013.
He maintained that the prices of all three properties together are lower than a one kanal house in the posh areas of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.
Justice Isa also objected to the Attorney General submitting response on behalf of the Supreme Judicial Council.
“It is a violation of the Constitution, the attorney general only advises the federal government on legal matters,” the judge said in his reply.