The Supreme Court of Pakistan has quashed the presidential reference against senior judge Justice Faiz Issa and granted his plea.
A 10-member full court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial heard the petition of Justice Qazi Fire Issa against the presidential reference. Other members of the full court include Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Mazhar Alam. Khan, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Qazi Amin Ahmed.
The case had more than 40 hearings in the 13 months from May last year to June this year, during which an attorney general not only resigned over a statement about the judges, but also Forough Naseem, the law minister representing the government in the case. Not only did he resign from the post, but this case was also historically significant because it was the first time in history that a serving judge, Justice Isa, appeared in court.
During the hearing, Justice Isa’s counsel Munir A. Malik replied on the completion of arguments of government counsel Forough Naseem, after which the verdict of the case was reserved today and a short verdict was issued after 4 p.m.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the head of the 10-member full court of the Supreme Court, delivered a brief verdict. In the said verdict, three judges wrote additional notes while Justice Yahya Afridi disagreed with the verdict.
According to the verdict, the court granted the petition of the petitioner Justice Qazi Faiz Issa against the presidential reference.
The apex court also withdrew the show cause notices issued against Justice Qazi Faiz Issa, adding that the court had directed the Federal Board of Justice (FBR) to issue notices to Justice Isa’s wife within seven days. Notices should be sent to each property separately, the court said, adding that the notices should be sent to the official residence of Justice Isa and the FBR should not adjourn the matter.
The decision said that if legal action is taken, the Supreme Judicial Council will be empowered to submit a report with its signature in the chair to the Registrar of the Supreme Court.
It may be recalled that in the reference filed against Justice Faiz Issa in May last year, it was alleged that he had acquired properties in the name of his wife and children on lease in London between 2011 and 2015 but they were disclosed in the tax returns. Did not Justice Faiz Issa later countered the allegations by saying that he was not the beneficial owner of the flats directly or indirectly.
Through this petition, Justice Qazi Faiz Issa had requested the Supreme Court that some powers want to remove him from the constitutional post in one way or another. He had claimed that President Arif Ali had not formed an independent opinion before filing a reference against him.
Justice Qazi Faiz Issa had said that the Prime Minister, Law Minister and Attorney General had distorted Section 116 (b) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 and mistakenly applied it to his wife and children. Applicable only to dependent spouses and children who are young and dependent on the father.
The petition claimed that government agencies, including the FIA, had secretly obtained information against the petitioner and his family in clear violation of Articles 4 and 14 of the Constitution and were not taken into confidence in the investigation. Nor was he given a chance to respond.
Justice Qazi had asked the court to declare the Assets Recovery Unit set up by the government to investigate his family’s properties illegal, adding that the petitioning judge and his family Investigations were illegal.
Yesterday, government lawyer Forough Naseem had completed his arguments on which the court had asked him to submit written submissions, while the wife of Justice Qazi Faiz Issa had also recorded her statement through a video link.
Short written court decision
The court order said that the reference number one of 2019 has no legal status and is declared null and void, hence the pending proceedings against the petitioner in the Supreme Judicial Council (“Council”) in CP 17/2019. Including showcause notices issued to them on 2019-07-17 were also canceled.
Justice Yahya Afridi dismissed CP 17/2019 and also dismissed other petitions mentioned in paragraph one.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Mian Khel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed issued the following orders in the court order: Are 4 to 11)
Within 7 days of the issuance of this order, the concerned Commissioner of Inland Revenue shall notify himself (and other officers exercising discretionary powers) appropriate notices to the wife and children of the petitioner under the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 (“Ordinance 2001”) Will be issued so that they can explain the nature and source of the funds (each property separately) under which 3 properties in the UK (VOZ No. 40, Oakdale Road, London E11 4DL; No. 90, Adelaide Road, London E) 10 5 NW and No. 50 Konstantin Court, Kendall Street, London W 2 2 AN) which were obtained in the name of his wife and children. As of the date of this order, any notices issued to the parties in this regard under the Ordinance 2001 or any action taken in respect of the property of these persons has been (or has been proposed).