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Friday Apr 23 2021

Supreme Court not to consider FBR report in Justice Qazi Faez Isa review petition

A look at the Supreme Court building. Photo: File

  • Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman claims Justice Isa's review petition cannot be accepted merely on argument that reference was not heard properly.
  • Argues that the FBR's findings regarding financial dealings of Justice Isa, family won't be nullified even if decision in instant petition is in his favour.
  • Bench asks AAG Amir Rehman to complete his arguments in next hearing of the case.

ISLAMABAD: Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked on Friday that the Supreme Court will not look at a report on Justice Qazi Faez Isa and his family's financial matters, compiled by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), and will leave it to the Supreme Judicial Council to decide what to do with it.

Justice Bandial is heading the apex court’s 10-member 'full court' bench, which has been seized with a review petition filed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who has challenged the Supreme Court's decision on the presidential reference filed against him.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Amir Rehman, representing the government, told the bench that the Supreme Court had given its verdict on the case by keeping into account all the facts and the law. 

He added that the bench had also heard the judge in question.

“This review petition can therefore not be accepted merely on the assertion that the reference was not heard properly,” Rehman argued.

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

The lawyer told the bench that Article 187 explains the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and that under the same article, the apex court can, in any case, issue a verdict without even listening to the defendant.

The AAG argued that the earlier bench’s decision to send the case to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) could therefore not be considered 'incorrect'. 

There is nothing “wrong” with the Supreme Court’s decision, he said.

“Using its powers [...] a court can issue any order,” argued Rehman. 

“The information that the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has received cannot be declared illegal,” Rehman said, referring to the report compiled by the FBR on Justice Isa and family's financial affairs on the orders of a smaller bench of the Supreme Court. 

He claimed that Justice Isa's lawyer himself had requested to send the case to the FBR.

However this invited an interruption from Justice Isa: “He is misstating the facts. My lawyer did not say any such thing,” he said.

The judge, annoyed, asked the bench whether the government lawyer "had the liberty to say whatever he wants to say".

Read more: Sparks fly in Supreme Court as full bench hears Justice Isa's petition

“You are, respectfully, requested to sit down Qazi sahab. Let the lawyer complete his argument,” Justice Manzoor Malik responded.

Read more: Justice Qazi Faez Isa claims govt wants him removed over Faizabad verdict

“If the government lawyer gives arguments like these, we will be here the whole night,” Justice Isa complained.

Read more: SC rejects Justice Qazi Faez's Isa request to broadcast hearing live

“Qazi sahab, let him make his arguments. We are all aware of the case record,” Justice Malik assured.

However, Justice Isa continued to criticise the government, saying that it had ruined two years of his family’s life. He also asked the bench what right this lawyer had to ruin any more of it.

“Qazi sahab, please let the argument proceed,” Justice Malik asked once again.

Read more: Justice Qazi Faez Isa files petition seeking additional review of June 2020 ruling

Justice Baqar, too, intervened — assuring Justice Isa that the bench was well acquainted with the case record.

“If someone says something [wrong], I cannot remain quiet,” Justice Isa said in response.

At this, Justice Malik reminded the petitioner that if he keeps on intervening, the court’s time will be wasted.

“The statements that the federal government lawyer is referring to are not part of the case record,” insisted Justice Isa. 

He accused the government lawyer of “giving statements to the bench from papers in his pocket”.

Irked by Justice Isa’s reaction, Rehman said his job was to present his arguments, and it was the court’s job to accept them, not Justice Isa’s.

“You keep giving your arguments, don't start with your analysis,” Justice Malik snapped back at the AAG.

Apparently in a bid to lighten the atmosphere, he then complemented Justice Isa on his tie.

“Mr Qazi seems to be in a good mood today. Let's keep it that way,” Justice Malik said.

Justice Maqbool Baqar, too, intervened to note that AAG Amir Rehman was a man of calm demeanour.

After the hearing was back on track, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that he had some questions for the government lawyer.

“The reference that the federal government filed has been declared illegal,” noted Justice Shah. He wondered if that did not also mean that the federal government’s case had ended.

“Tell us, then: what is your role in this case?” asked Justice Shah.

He reminded the lawyer that it was the petitioner who had raised objections against the Supreme Court's verdict.

“Why is it necessary for the court to hear you [a representative of the federal government],” asked Justice Shah.

AAG Amir Rehman responded by telling the court that every lawyer is liable to follow their client's instruction, but was interrupted again.

Read more: CJP forms 10-member, larger bench to hear Justice Qazi Faez Isa's review petition

“I accepted this fact, move on,” Justice Isa interjected. 

However, this did not go down well with Justice Bandial.

“The arguments are for the court, not for your personal satisfaction,” Justice Bandial reminded Justice Isa.

Justice Malik asked Justice Qazi Faez Isa to continue reading the Quran, which he had been reading during the hearing.

“The amount of time you spend intervening can be used by the lawyer to complete his argument,” Justice Malik reasoned.

Rehman, continuing his arguments, then reminded the court that the FBR has already sent its report to the Supreme Judicial Council. "The Supreme Court itself has not given any direction to the SJC," he explained.

He added that since the report was already submitted, the present case could be considered merely an 'academic' one.

“And this court usually is at ease over questions that are of an academic nature,” recalled the AAG.

Read more: Supreme Court allows Justice Isa to argue his case himself

He argued that even if the Supreme Court's verdict on the presidential ordinance is withdrawn, the SJC will still have that material to investigate the case.

“If the review petition is accepted, will it take effect from today or from June 2020 [when the decision was taken]?” asked Justice Munib Akhtar. He added that if the court takes back its decision, all actions taken as a result of that decision will also be deemed null and void.

“The facts remain facts — they cannot be eliminated,” Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked at the judge’s observation. 

He recalled that a case of a similar nature had come before the Supreme Court 11 years ago.

“In that case as well, the arguments had proceeded with patience. Keep in mind that we have to take a decision based on the principles of justice,” said Justice Bandial. 

With that observation, he remarked that the bench will not concern itself with the FBR report.

Read more: SC dismisses presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa

He recalled that the bench had asked three questions from Justice Isa.

“Justice Isa, however, argued that the questions were asked on the basis of the FBR report,” said Justice Bandial. 

He clarified again that the bench was not looking at the FBR report in the case.

However, AAG Amir Rehman told the court that SJC still has the right to seek the information.

“[Nonetheless,] the FBR report cannot be central for us,” Justice Bandial said. He added that the SJC can instead review the facts under which the FBR report was formed.

“The nature of this case is very different,” remarked Justice Bandial.

At this, the bench adjourned the hearing of the case till Monday and directed AAG Amir Rehman to complete his arguments in the next hearing.