–Counsel says President Alvi didn’t have enough information to comment on Justice Isa’s tax matters
ISLAMABAD: A counsel representing Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Tuesday argued before the full bench that President Arif Alvi didn’t have enough information on tax matters of Justice Isa to file a reference against the judge.
A ten-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed heard the case regarding proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
The reference filed against Justice Isa alleges that he acquired three properties in London on lease in the name of his wife and children between 2011 and 2015, but did not disclose them in his wealth returns.
Continuing his arguments, Advocate Babar Sattar said the president did not have any material in respect of the tax on which he made his comments [in the misconduct reference].
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said the matter before the Supreme Judicial Council was not of tax evasion, but the judge’s code of conduct, as he didn’t disclose his property.
He asked the counsel that what he had said about the judge’s fundamental rights went contradictory to lead counsel Munir A Malik’s arguments.
Justice Faisal Arab said the court would rely on Munir Malik’s arguments while those of Babar Sattar would only be considered to the extent of tax. Therefore, there was no need to compare the arguments of Munir Malik with those of Babar Sattar, he added.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked the counsel to continue his arguments on tax matters.
Babar Sattar said the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 did not authorise the advice of the Income Tax Officers.
He said except the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) internal procedures, no authority including, the SJC, could see the tax information of an individual. The wife of Justice Isa was not a public servant so her information could not be shared, he added.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said he was saying that when all the content goes to the president, he should look at the legal method of collecting the same. He told the counsel that he could be right on the technical grounds, but those points were very small ones.
Justice Yahya Afridi questioned where Justice Qazi Faez Isa filed his tax returns. To which, Sattar said Justice Isa was filing his tax returns in Islamabad after becoming an SC judge.
In a comment on SJC proceedings, the counsel said Article 209 was not formed to oust the judges but to protect them.
Justice Bandial asked the counsel to complete his arguments about tax laws on Wednesday. “Tomorrow the trial will take place like a 20 overs match,” he added.
The top court adjourned the hearing till Wednesday.