PBC now has misgivings about ruling in Isa case

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ISLAMABAD: A day after the Supreme Court announced its verdict in the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) — one of the petitioners — was on Saturday having second thoughts and may file a review petition against a part of the judgement.

Soon after the announcement of the judgement by a ten-judge full court, the PBC had issued a call to observe “Yaum-e-Tashak­kur” on Mon­day (June 22) to celebrate the victory of the cause of the rule of law, the constitutionalism and the independence of the judiciary.

But PBC vice chairman Abid Saqi on Saturday told Dawn that after a threadbare discussion among the members of the council, the PBC had decided to challenge paragraph 9 of the short order which the full court had announced.

“We have strong reservations against that part of the order since we believe it is illogical,” he explained.

Through paragraph 9, the majority judgement consisting of seven judges had ordered the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman to furnish a report to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) secretary, who happens to be the registrar of the Supreme Court.

The report so furnished will consist of details of the proceedings conducted by the commissioner inland revenue after seeking explanation from the wife and children of Justice Isa about the nature and source of the funds for the three properties in the United Kingdom namely No. 40, Oakdale Road, London E11 4DL; No. 90, Adelaide Road, London E10 5NW; and No. 50, Coniston Court, Kendal Street, London W2 2AN.

The secretary would then place the report before SJC chairman who would lay it before the council to consider any action, order or proceedings, if any, in relation to the petitioner judge as the council might determine, the order had stated.

The receipt of the report, the laying of it before the council and the action/proceedings, if any, or orders or directions, if any, as might be taken, would be deemed, for the purposes of Article 209 of the Constitution, to be in exercise of the suo motu jurisdiction, the judgement had explained.

The order had also stated that if within 100 days from the date of this judgement, no report was received by the SJC secretary from the FBR chairman, he would inform the chairman of the council accordingly and might be required to explain why the report had not been sent.

If no reply is received, the secretary will bring such fact to the attention of the SJC chairman who may direct that the matter be placed before the council for consideration or action as the council may determine.

The action/proceedings, if any, would be initiated by the SJC for purposes of Article 209 of the Constitution, in exercise of suo motu, the judgement had explained.

Asked whether the PBC should not wait for the detailed judgement, Mr Saqi replied that the review petition would be filed as soon as possible in view of the time line provided in the judgement otherwise it would be of no use.

Meanwhile, a senior lawyer on condition of anonymity opined that the order to refer the matter to the FBR was correct since it was meant to remove the stigma of misconduct within a certain time period otherwise it would remain dangling over the head of Justice Isa.

The statement recorded by the wife of Justice Isa before the full court explaining the source of funds for the properties suggested that the family had enough documents to prove the point that the wife had the resources to acquire properties in the foreign country, he said.

Besides the wisdom behind the directive was also to establish what the judges of the full court highlighted on a number of occasions during the hearing that the judges were not above the law and amenable to the accountability, the lawyer said.

In the minority judgement, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Yahya Afridi had observed that one of the pivotal constitutional values was independence of judiciary and reiterated that “in our constitutional democracy, neither the petitioner judge, nor any other judge, or any individual or any institution, is above the law”.

The doors of the constitutional forum i.e. the SJC were always open, either on its own motion or for anyone who had a genuine and a bona fide grievance, amenable to the jurisdiction of the council against a judge of the constitutional court, the minority judgement had stated.

At the same time, it was equally important that a judge like any other citizen of Pakistan enjoyed the inalienable constitutional right to be treated in accordance with law, it had said. These fundamental values were to be protected at all cost to uphold the majesty and supremacy of the constitution and to honour the people of Pakistan who had adopted and given to themselves this constitution, the judgement had said.