Tuesday Sep 17, 2019
ISLAMABAD: A Supreme Court bench hearing a set of petitions pertaining to presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa was on Tuesday dissolved after the lawyer of the apex court judge raised objection on its formation.
A seven-member larger bench headed by Justice Umar Atta Bandial and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel conducted the hearing.
Raising objection on the bench, Munir A. Malik, counsel for Qazi Faez Isa, said some of the judges should have refused to hear the case on moral grounds.
Munir A Malik requested that a full court bench excluding members of the Supreme Judicial Council be formed. "Justice must also be seen to be done," he said to media.
He said the judges who have a personal interest in the matter should not be part of the bench. When Justice Umar Atta Bandial asked him about the judge who he thinks can be biased, the lawyer said he won't say any judge is biased.
Justice Bandial said he wants to convey that no judge of the Supreme Court is biased because every judge performs his duty in accordance with the Constitution and the Law.
He said no judge of the court had any interest in any case. "You are going in wrong direction by talking about bias of the judges. We want to hear more arguments on the matter," Justice Umar Atta Bandial said.
The lawyer said people must have confidence on the judiciary and justice can't be done if there is lack of trust. Justice Bandial said it was not fair to raise questions about the bench in the beginning. He said judges have no personal interest and it would open the door for rumors.
The lawyer said two members of the bench who would possibly become chief justice in the future have direct interest in the case. Justice Faisal Arab said that the Supreme Judicial Council will continue its proceedings if Munir A Malik failed to prove his point.
The lawyer said his client has no objection to the person of any judge and the matter only pertains to the image and prestige of the court. After the break in the hearing, Justice Tariq Masood and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan recused themselves from the bench.
Following which the Supreme Court bench was dissolved and the request for new bench was sent to the Chief Justice of Pakistan.
To Munir A Malik's objection, Justice Tariq Masooq said he had already made his mind to not become part of the bench. Justice Ijazul Ahsan said he is also rescuing himself to fulfill the requirements of justice.
The lawyer said he respects both the judges and reposes full trust in them. Justice Umar Atta Bandial, however, said he has reservations over the way removal of the judges was sought.
Justice Isa had written letters to President Alvi after the law minister instituted a presidential reference against him for allegedly possessing properties in the United Kingdom in the name of wife and children.
In the second reference, Advocate Butt had contended that by repeatedly writing letters "instead of explaining the sources of funds for such acquisition of properties", Justice Isa had violated the code of conduct for judges of the superior courts. Advocate Butt had also alleged that the letters were leaked to the media to generate unnecessary public controversy, that the language used in the letters was offensive, that the judge had unduly targeted the Prime Minister and leveled unsubstantiated allegations against President Alvi and other federal cabinet members.
But, in its order issued on Monday, the Supreme Judicial Council noted that Advocate Butt had not alleged that the contents of the letters had been leaked to the media by Justice Isa himself.
The Council said the absence of such an allegation against Justice Isa reduces the reference to "merely to writing of private letters by him to the President", which "may not ipso facto amount to misconduct on the part of the Judge".
Following which, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) had quashed a reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, saying the allegations against him were not "serious or grave enough to constitute misconduct sufficient for his removal".