The Supreme Court on Tuesday, June 2, 2020, asked why is the integrity of judges being questioned when there is no concrete evidence. In the Supreme Court, a 10 member bench heard the petition filed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa against the references filed by the government against him.
The Presidential reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa alleges that he acquired three properties in London on lease in 2011 and 2015 under his wife and children’s names, and never mentioned them in his wealth returns. The Presidential reference was filed after a certain Mr. Waheed Dogar, submitted a complaint with the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) against Justice Faez Isa on April 10, 2019.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa had requested the Supreme Court to disallow now former Law Minister Faroogh Naseem from representing the government in the case, saying his conduct comes within the definition of a “tout”. The case was adjourned until 11:30 AM PKT on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial is heading the bench along with Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, and Justice Qazi Ameen Ahmed.
Former Law Minister Faroogh Naseem is representing the government, while former Attorney-General Irfan Qadir is representing Prime Minister Imran Khan and Advocate Khalid Ranjha is representing President Arif Alvi. Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s counsel is Munir A. Malik.
Voicepk.net reports on the arguments in court:
Faroogh Naseem presents himself before the apex court on behalf of the government.
“I must ask you all to ensure social distancing before the case starts,” says Justice Umar Ata Bandial before commencing the hearing.
“I am representing the federal government and Shahzad Akbar,” says Faroogh Naseem, the government’s appointed lawyer. “I am also a party to the case; Irfan Qadir would represent on my behalf.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa through his lawyer Munir A. Malik raises objections to Faroogh Naseem’s appointment as the government’s consul.
“I respect Faroogh Naseem, but I object to his representing the government” says Munir A. Malik, the lawyer for Justice Qazi Faez Isa. “In order to represent, Faroogh Naseem would have to present a certificate of being the Attorney-General. The rules do not permit the federal government to hire a private consul.”
“If somebody from the Attorney-General’s office is not eligible of representing, then the office would have to issue a certificate,” he added.
“I would ask you to not raise objections and let the case proceed. Summer vacations are also about to start and we want the case to proceed,” responds Justice Umar Ata Bandial.
“I have informed the court in writing about my objections. All objections are as per the law and the rules of the Supreme Court,” explains Munir A. Malik. “I do not want to waste the court’s time, they can review my objections themselves.”
“The objections raised over me are not that important,” responds Faroogh Naseem. “Rasheed Ahmed’s case has clarified this already.”
“We have submitted a written application regarding Faroogh Naseem’s presence before the court. The federal government has the right to be represented and to defend itself,” Munir A. Malik continues.
“We want to wind up this case before summer vacations commence,” interjects Justice Umar Ata Bandial. Referring to Munir A. Malik, he says “It would be ideal if you take back your objections, otherwise we would have to give a ruling.”
“The law of the land should be implemented,” Munir A. Malik concedes to the judges’ demands and resumes with Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s arguments in the case. “This is about transparency and justice.”
“The Attorney-General has issued the relevant certificate,” Faroogh Naseem points out regarding the validity of his appointment, to which Justice Umar Ata Bandial reminds him that he should present the certificate on record, after which the court will issue a ruling.
“I have objections to the language in the written application submitted by Justice Qazi Faez Isa,” Faroogh Naseem begins but is halted by Justice Umar Ata Bandial.
“Mr. Faroogh Naseem, please limit the conversation to the merits of the case, and not what is written in the application,” he urges.
“Three properties in London are on lease under the names of the honorable judge’s (Justice Qazi Faez Isa) children and wife, a reality which has been accepted by the applicant,” Faroogh Naseem continues. “Under Article 209, the court is concerned with the matter of the misconduct of the judge – the real question here is how were these properties bought?
“Where is the money trail?” Naseem posits. “How was the money sent abroad from Pakistan to buy these properties? If Justice Qazi Faez Isa cannot produce the money trail, then it is a matter of misconduct, and the honorable judge is highly respected in society…”
“The properties are leased under the names of the judge’s children and wife,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, however, first you told us that the properties were under the ownership of Justice Faez Isa,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah points out, to which Faroogh Naseem states that it is the applicant’s responsibility to prove that the properties in question are not Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s.
“If my son buys some property, would I then be held answerable?” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah demands pointedly.
“If Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s children and wife are under his care then that has to be proved,” states Justice Yahya Afridi.
“If the children and wife are not his dependents then it is upon the applicant to state the resources through which these properties were acquired,” responds Faroogh Naseem. “Rather than responding to the show-cause notice, Justice Qazi Faez Isa filed an application instead.”
“The honorable judge (Justice Qazi Faez Isa) says his children and wife should be asked about the money trail and resources,” Justice Umar Ata Bandial says to Faroogh Naseem.
“How can you question someone for properties owned by someone else?” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah questions the federal government’s argument. Faroogh Naseem.
“What issue does the federal government have with judges’ properties?” Justice Qazi Amin adds. “Why is the integrity of judges being questioned when there is no concrete evidence?
Are these actions taken by the government moves not against judges and a free judiciary?
“The case that you are currently presenting through your arguments is different from what was contained in the reference you filed,” observes Justice Munib Akhtar. “Today you are arguing the case on the basis of income tax laws.”
“It is upon the Judicial Council to admit or dispose of the reference,” replies Faroogh Naseem.
“First you have to convince the court that the reference was not been filed with ill intent,” Justice Sajjad Ali Shah urges Faroogh Naseem.
“On a Constitutional petition, the argument presented in the reference would educational in nature. The Judicial Council can review the reference and reject it if so it finds it necessary to,” Faroogh Naseem posits. “After hearing the arguments presented by the Attorney-General and the honorable judge (Justice Qazi Faez Isa), the Judicial Council issued a show-cause notice.”
“A show-cause notice has its own importance. The application filed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa states that the reference filed against him is based on ill-intent,” Justice Umar Ata Bandial observes. “The honorable judge’s lawyer showed reluctance in presenting his arguments on the show-cause notice. Munir A. Malik argued whether the application can be heard or not.”
“Perhaps Munir A. Malik did not deem it fit to give arguments on the part about ill-intent,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah adds.
“No show-cause was issued to the former Chief Justice but it was issued in Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s case,” Faroogh Naseem points out. “After the reference thus matured in response to the show-cause notice.”
“How was the reference made? How was its material gathered?” Justice Maqbool Baqir queries Faroogh Naseem. “But first, please present your arguments on how the reference was made.”
“How was a former Chief Justice summoned without a show-cause?” Justice Faisal Arab quizzes Faroogh Naeem to which he replies that the former Chief Justice was issued a show-cause as Article 209 was not invoked in that matter.
“In the current Presidential reference, Article 209 was fully followed,” Faroogh Naseem
“I do not agree with your argument, Mr. Naseem,” – Justice Munib Akhtar interjects. “Prima facie, it seems you want to do argue the case regarding the show-cause notice. It means that prior to this, the show-cause was not just a piece of paper.”
“Before the show-cause notice, the reference can be subjected to a judicial review,” – Faroogh Naseem states.
“The applicant has alleged that the reference and the process itself is wholly illegal and filed in ill-intent,” Justice Maqbool Baqir reiterates Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s stance. “In the first stage, posing an argument regarding this issue would be ideal; all actions and rulings should be in accordance with the law.”
“Article 211 was invoked after the show-cause notice was issued, after which the Judicial Council’s conduct cannot be challenged,” posits Faroogh Naseem.
“If we take this argument of yours, should we not be expecting arguments on the process of the reference submitted by the government?” queries Justice Sajjad Ali Shah to which Faroogh Naseem assures that he would present his arguments regarding the subject.
“Then please first give us your arguments on the reference process,” Justice Sajjad Ali Shah requests Faroogh Naseem.
“Why are you detracting into unnecessary debates? It took half an hour to come to the main topic,” Justice Mansoor Ali Shah decries.
The Supreme Court sought the federal government’s arguments on four questions from Faroogh Naseem. The apex court demanded the government’s response to allegations leveled by Justice Qazi Faez Isa that the evidence against him was gathered through illegal means. Furthermore, the Supreme Court questioned why the government’s complaint was sent to the ARU and not to the Supreme Judicial Council or the President, who had filed the reference against the judge in the first place, and demanded that the federal government submit satisfactory responses to these queries in the court.