Justice Isa case: Justice Maqbool Baqar leaves court after row with judges

April 22, 2021

Justice Maqbool Baqar later said he was not offended by anyone's comments

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During the hearing of Justice Qazi Faez Isa's case on Thursday, a row broke out between the judges of the Supreme Court after which Justice Maqbool Baqir abruptly left the court, Geo News reported.

A 10-member bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, was hearing the review petitions of Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

In his arguments, lawyer Hamid Khan said that the Supreme Judicial Council becomes inactive when a reference is done with. In response, Justice Umar Ata Bandial said the council does not become inactive and information can be submitted to it.

Hamid Khan replied that no action can be taken with regards to references that have been revoked.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar remarked that there was no mention of the restoration of the reference in the ciurt's judgment, adding that the council would review the contents of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Hamid Khan said assets belonging to a judge's wife and children could not be reviewed by the Supreme Judicial Council, in response to which Justice Umar Ata Bandial cited an example and mentioned Iftikhar Chaudhry's case where the assets of his son Arsalan Iftikhar were reviewed.

"The Supreme Court has made observations regarding the families of judges before too," he said.

Justice Ata Bandial further said that the case of assets in excess of income is not only against public officials. On the other hand, Justice Muneeb Akhtar questioned whether the SC could review a case or not if a judge's family is connected with it.

Hamid Khan said that the Supreme Judicial Council is not a permanent body, therefore, taking a suo motu notice is at the discretion of the Supreme Judicial Council. The Supreme Judicial Council cannot be directed to take suo motu notices, he said.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that, to date, the FBR report has not been reviewed by the Council.

"The registrar already has all the material related to the report that it could submit to the Council. Can the Supreme Judicial Council be prevented from accepting the material?" Justice Bandial questioned.

The judge said that the Judicial Council could also act on information obtained from elsewhere, to which Hamid Khan said that the material in the possession of the council was collected on the orders of the Supreme Court.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the method of scrutiny of a public office holder is stricter than that of a common man. There is no case of corruption against Justice Faiz Isa and his family.

Advocate Hamid Khan said that the Constitution of Pakistan is the protector of the tenures of judges, the Constitution defends independent judiciary, to which Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that in view of the protection provided to the independent judiciary and tenures of the judges, full immunity should not be granted.

"People should be able to respect the dignity of the judiciary and [for that to happen] they must have full confidence in the judiciary," Justice Bandial said.

Hamid Khan argued that the judge was not bound to explain vague allegations, to which Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that if there was an error in the judgment, he would correct it.

Lawyer Hamid Khan said that the Supreme Court does not have the power to give directions to the FBR. Upon which Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked whether the annulment of the reference also eliminates the facts of the case.

The Supreme Court has broad powers under Article 184/3, Bandial said, adding that every citizen has the right to own a property abroad, but there is a difference between a public official and a common man.

Justice Omar Ata Bandial also remarked that the truth should be brought to light and not concealed.

"Yesterday, Serena Isa submitted some documents [before the court] which contained details of sending large sums of money abroad," said Justice Bandial.

Upon the completion of Hamid Khan's arguments, Justice Umar Ata Bandial commended Khan for providing "very solid and good arguments."

"We are hearing some sound legal arguments in this court after a long time. I am praising you on behalf of all the esteemed members of the bench."

When the Additional Attorney General presented his arguments, Justice Qazi Faez Isa said: "My speech was related to the Constitution of Pakistan, Islam, and fundamental rights. However, you termed my speech to be "against Islam and the Qur'an."

Justice Maqbool Baqir said that he has demanded at least 50 times that this case should be concluded soon, adding that the court also asked the other side not to consume too much time.

In response, Justice Muneeb Akhtar said that the Additional Attorney General should continue his arguments and "show some respect to the seniors."

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah remarked that the court should assign a time to Amir Rehman to complete his arguments.

"If the lawyer is interrupted again and again, I would stand up and leave the court," he said.

Upon hearing that, Justice Maqbool Baqar said: "I can also get up and leave the court."

Sensing the heated atmosphere in the courtroom, the public prosecutor suggested the court take a 10-minute break.

In response, Justice Maqbool Baqar said that a 10-minute break would not make a difference, after which he stood up and left the courtroom.

Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman, in his arguments, said that the review appeal could not be presented for a hearing on the basis of shortcomings in the procedure, adding that the Supreme Court had given a time frame to the FBR to expedite the case.

Some established facts also exist in this case, he said, adding that the FBR's authority to investigate cases was not questioned, rather the court — in its decision — recognized the judicial authority to send the matter to the relevant forum for investigation.

Aamir Rehman said that the relevant forum for Serena Isa was the FBR, and the court had not issued any order against Serena Isa.

A hearing is required to present a ruling against someone. But in this case, Serena Isa's remarks were heard even before the case was sent to the FBR.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa said that the federal government has not filed any review petition, adding that the matter of FBR is between him, his wife Serena, and the institution.

"The government is only trying to prolong the case," Justice Isa said, adding that government wants to prolong the case till the retirement of Justice Manzoor Malik.

Justice Omar Ata Bandial said that Serena Isa did not give any legal reference regarding the non-hearing.

Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman said that his arguments are being objected to, adding that if that has to be done, then written arguments should be taken from lawyers.

In response, Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the court has no objections related to Rehman's arguments, rather it needs his assistance.

Aamir Rehman pointed out that Justice Qazi Faez Issa had spoken against his conduct, to which Justice Umar Ata Bandial acknowledged that Justice Qazi Faez Issa had spoken inappropriately. Justice Manzoor Malik also told Aamir Rehman that he is a good man and a lawyer, therefore, he should let go of the matter.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, while talking to the Additional Attorney General, said that the court's decision he was referring to is different from the pending case.

The presidential reference against Justice Faez Isa was removed by the majority of judges, Shah said, adding that it is not certain whether the FBR will take action after the decision of the Supreme Court.

"The FBR began the investigation against the family of the judge in the light of our order. The presidential reference was against A but the proceedings were initiated against B," he said.

"Give me one legal example of a case where a case was initiated against a man but proceedings were carried out against his wife," he questioned.

The Additional Attorney General said that if the FBR had not taken action against offshore properties, it would have been contempt of court.

Justice Yahya Afridi remarked that if the Supreme Judicial Council had ordered the FBR to investigate, it had done the right thing. The FBR was ordered to initiate an investigation by the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court exercised the same authority as the Supreme Judicial Council. The council should provide assistance with regards to these points.

The Additional Attorney General said that he apologizes to Justice Maqbool Baqar if he was offended by any of his remarks, to which Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that Justice Maqbool Baqir was the "beloved of the bench." Meanwhile, Justice Maqbool Baqir said that he was not offended by any of his remarks.

The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing of Justice Faez Issa's review petitions till 10.30 am tomorrow.


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