October 24th, 2020
By Rehan Piracha
In response to the detailed verdict of the Supreme Court over the Justice Qazi Faez Isa petition, Pakistan Bar Council leaders have called for immediate resignations of President of Pakistan Arif Alvi, Federal Law Minister Farogh Nasim, and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Shahzad Akbar. However other senior lawyers say allegations of misconduct have not come to rest with the verdict.
In a statement on October 24, the PBC said the observations and reasons given by the Supreme Court in its detailed judgment clearly prove the Constitutional violations, illegalities and mala fide of the government and its functionaries, in filing the politically motivated reference against the petitioner, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, which has rightly been quashed by the apex court, although without taking any action against the delinquent government and its ministers and other officials, who in fact, are the mastermind and responsible of filing the reference, aiming to pressurise and disrepute the sacred institution of the judiciary.
“The Bar leaders, therefore, have demanded the immediate resignations of the President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi who sent the reference to the Supreme Judicial Council without thorough consideration and application of his mind, that being the constitutional requirement, and also that of Dr Farogh Naseem, Federal Law Minister and Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and head of the ‘Assets Recovery Unit’, who was the real mastermind of initiating the enquiry and preparing the reference against the petitioner and so deliberately attempted to cause bad name to the judiciary,” read the statement from the Pakistan Bar Council.
Abid Saqi, Vice Chairman and Azam Nazeer Tarar, Chairman, Executive Committee, Pakistan Bar Council, welcomed the verdict of the Supreme Court, but recalled that the Pakistan Bar Council, being not satisfied with findings of the Supreme Court, given in paragraphs 3-11 of its short order dated 19-06-2020, in Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s case, has already filed a review petition in respect of referring the matter of the wife and children of the petitioner, to the Federal Bureau of Revenue for investigation within specified time line and submission of its report within stipulated period of time to the Supreme Judicial Council, which needed to be fixed for hearing at an early date. “The Council after minute perusal and examination of the detailed order, issued by the Supreme Court on October 23, may also file a civil miscellaneous appeal with its further submissions adding to its review petition,” the Bar Council statement added.
Speaking to Voicepk.net, Abid Saqi, Vice Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council, said the detailed judgment sets the precedent that an investigation against a justice has to be validly authorised by the President of Pakistan. Secondly, the President has to form his considered opinion under Article 209 (5) of the Constitution after independent application of mind.
‘Verdict does not let judge entirely off the hook’
On the other hand Barrister, Salman Akram Raja and Barrister Haris Azmat are of the opinion that the matter of alleged misconduct against Justice Qazi Faiz Isa is not settled yet. Haris Azmat said the detailed judgment was a balanced verdict, adding the court quashed the proceedings of a reference against the judge but also set a timeframe for the FBR inquiry into the ownership of properties abroad. The court directed the FBR to submit details of the inquiry to the Supreme Judicial Council for allowing the council take up the matter under its suo motu jurisdiction, Azmat added.
Salman Akram Raja said the reference against Qazi Faez Isa was quashed on technical grounds. In its detailed judgment, the apex sets precedents on approval of President of Pakistan for information gathering prior to framing of a reference against a justice, he said. The apex court secondly sets the precedent that the President is not a rubber stamp but has one opportunity under Article 48 (1) to apply his independent mind by sending a reference back to the Prime Minister on account of procedural and legal flaws, Raja said. If the reference is yet again sent back without any changes, then the President is bound to approve the reference to the Supreme Judicial Council, he said.
In his opinion, the detailed verdict goes against Justice Qazi Faez Isa as objections raised by him on mala fide proceedings, the legality of the Assets Recovery Unit, and assets owned by a financially independent spouse and children were turned down by the court.
The court has ordered the FBR to investigate the allegations about the foreign properties owned by the judge’s spouse and children, Raja said, adding that the matter has not been resolved as being generally perceived.