Pakistan’s top court rejects Presidential reference against judge Faez Isa

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Monitoring Desk
The Supreme Court has rejected the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, terming it “invalid”.
“[The reference] is declared to be of no legal effect whatsoever and stands quashed,” read the majority (9-1) short verdict on a petition filed by Justice Isa and others seeking the reference’s dismissal, according to English newspaper, Daily Dawn.
The top court also ended any pending proceedings against the judge in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), which it said also meant withdrawal of a show cause notice issued to Justice Isa by the council in July last year for “writing letters to President Arif Alvi” after the presidential reference against him was filed.
Seven of the 10 judges on the bench also ordered the Inland Revenue Department and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to seek explanations from the judge’s wife and children on the nature and source of funding for three properties in their names in the United Kingdom and submit a report to the SC registrar in three months.
Other than the dissenting Justice Afridi, Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah opposed the majority decision of an FBR inquiry.
The verdict was announced by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who was heading the 10-judge bench hearing the case.
The short order directed the Inland Revenue Commissioner to send a notice to the judge’s wife and children within seven days, asking them for the aforesaid explanations about their properties in the UK.
The commissioner will complete the investigation within 60 days and issue an order within 15 days of the investigation’s conclusion. The FBR has been directed to submit a report to the SC registrar within seven days of the commissioner’s order.
The registrar will then present the report to the chairman of the SJC (the chief justice of Pakistan) who will decide when to present it in the council.
Munir A Malik, counsel for Justice Isa, while speaking to the media outside the SC said that “all of their arguments were accepted by the court including malafide intention, prematurity and lack of evidence”.
“The Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) cannot be accepted as a legal department as it was not constituted on legal grounds,” he added.
President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Hafiz Abdur Rehman Ansari in a statement “highly appreciated” the top court’s verdict and commended it for “its courageous demonstration guarding its independence [and] thus upholding the prime objective of the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution”.
Vice chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Abid Saqi said that the SC verdict had “frustrated the nefarious and ill-motivated move of the government to subdue and pressurise the independent judiciary”.
The PBC also announced that all bar members will observe Youm-e-Tashakkur (day of gratefulness) on June 22. They will also celebrate what the council termed a “landmark judgement and the victory of the cause of the rule of law, the constitutionalism and independence of the judiciary”.
The reference filed against Justice Isa — in line to become the chief justice on September 18, 2023, for 13 months — by the government in May last year alleged 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 his wealth returns. Justice Isa contested the allegation, saying he is not a beneficial owner of the flats — neither directly nor indirectly.
Through his petition, Justice Isa pleaded before the Supreme Court the the powers that be wanted to remove him from his constitutional office by hook or by crook. President Arif Alvi, he claimed, did not form his own independent opinion before the filing of the reference against him.

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