Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar has assured allegations of the Supreme Court Bar Associaiton and the Pakistgan Bar Council that he would ask the Cabinet to be allowed to withdraw the curative review petition that was filed by the previous government against the decision by theSupreme Court, dismissing the presidential referennce filed against Mr Justice Qazi Faerz Isa. Mr Tarar’s assurance is welcome, for the petition showed the previous government as worrying like a dog with a bone at mr justice Isa’s issue, refusing to accept that it was in the wrong. It is perhaps indicative that the case is the one specific instance where ousted PM Imran Khan has admitted that he was badly advised.
That bad advice resulted in painful hearings of the Supreme Judicial Council and the Supreme Court for Mr Justice Isa, and difficult appearances for his wife. The Supreme Court decision against the reference should have ended the episode, but whoever was responsible for the original reference was not ready to give up so easily. The reason for this shows that there is all the more reason for the last vestige of this case to be cleared. Mr Justice Fazez Isa has legitimate expectancy to become the next Chief Justice of Pakistan, in September 2023, when the incumbent, Mr Justice Umar Ata Bandial, retires.
Apart from the importance of ensuring that Mr Justice Isa enters upon office free of any legal proceedings, it is important for the independence of judiciary that there should be no tool available to the government which it can somehow use as a Damocles’ Sword over the head of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Apart from a bundle of litigation with political implications which is presently piled up, much of the litigation necessitated by the next general election, including appeals against decisions by election tribunals on election petitions, will come up before a Supreme Court headev by Mr Justice Isa. It would do to have anything that could give even the semblance of impropriety. The matter, which even the initiator admits was a mistake, should be buried forever.