ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday adjourned the hearing of Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s petition challenging the presidential reference filed against him over alleged non-disclosure of assets in his wealth statement till Wednesday.
A 10-member larger bench of the 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 wealth returns.
During the course of proceedings, counsel for Sindh High Court Bar Association Raza Rabbani while continuing his arguments said that the Supreme Judicial Council could not review about dishonesty in the reference.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah asked could departments collect material for filing a reference?
Raza Rabbani responded that Asset Recovery Unit collected material against the judges. The departments could not collect material on their own, he added. He said that the Asset Recovery Unit could only send Waheed Dogar’s request to the President.
Rabbani said that the Asset Recovery Unit collected material after mobilising Federal Investigation Agency, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Inter-Services Intelligence. If this was allowed, flood gates would open, he added.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that only the executive could verify the contents of the reference. Justice Yahya Afridi asked could the prime minister be a source for collecting material against the judges. Raza Rabbani said that the prime minister could also be the source of complaints against the judges.
Justice Yahya Afridi said that this acknowledgment was the opposite of his own arguments. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah asked could the prime minister collect material for filing a reference based on information?
Raza Rabbani said that the prime minister could not collect the material by itself. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that the prime minister would place the information before the President.
Raza Rabbani said that the Judicial Council had the power to initiate an inquiry.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that witnesses were to appear in the Judicial Council following the show cause notice. Justice Maqbool Baqar asked could government machinery be used to prosecute a judge?
Raza Rabbani said that government machinery could not be used to make a reference against a judge.
Justice Munib Akhtar asked was the Supreme Judicial Council bound to the inquiry of administration?
Raza Rabbani said that his question was that the President, the Prime Minister cannot order any such inquiry and such inquiry would be illegal. Only the Supreme Court can throw such illegal inquiries into the trash, he added.
He said that he argued the complaint should be sent directly to the Supreme Judicial Council.
Justice Munib Akhtar said that according to the court’s decision, the material might be collected along with the complaint against the judges. He said that there was a big difference between a complaint and an inquiry.
Justice Munib Akhtar asked Raza Rabbani that did he want the president to send the complaint to the council without confirmation?
Raza Rabbani said that a special meeting was held in the FIA to gather material against the judges.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that there was a point that material could be collected against the judges with the permission of the president and the second point was that material could be collected at the behest of the Judicial Council.
He asked would the government send an incomplete complaint or material to the President for reference? He said that accountability of judges was a central and important point. There was no discussion on the merit of reference in the Iftikhar Chaudhry case, he added.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that in the Iftikhar Chaudhry case, reference was from the President of Pakistan. The Supreme Court laid down several principles in the Iftikhar Chaudhry case and even in the case of Justice Faez Isa, the court would also set some rules, he added.
Raza Rabbani said that the executive and the president had no role in the appointment of judges. He asked how could a Prime Minister order an inquiry against a judge if there was no role in the appointment of judges?
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the post of the Prime Minister was constitutional and the Prime Minister was the head and leader of the government.
He said that if the Prime Minister was powerless, the whole system would be directionless. How did the system work if the Prime Minister had no role? he asked.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the court highly respects the Prime Minister.
Raza Rabbani said that recent references against judges were malicious.