SJC decides not to proceed further against Justice Isa


ISLAMABAD , APRIL 29  : The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Wednesday decided not to proceed further against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, a judge of the Supreme Court who won a case recently which set aside the court’s earlier directive to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to conduct an inquiry into three UK properties in the name of his wife and children.

The SJC, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, decided not to pursue any further against Justice Isa in the light of the April 26 10-judge Supreme Court judgement, an informed source confided to Dawn.

By a majority of six to four, the apex court had overturned its June 19, 2020, majority order that required verification and subsequent findings by the tax authorities of the three foreign properties which, according to the now quashed reference, were not disclosed.

Consequently, the entire exercise conducted by the FBR was rendered null and void since the fresh order that came on a set of review petitions recalled and set aside the June 19 verdict that had quashed the presidential reference against Justice Faez Isa, but authorised the FBR to evaluate and later impose tax liability on Mrs Isa for possessing three properties in the United Kingdom.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who headed the 10-judge SC bench which had accepted the review petitions moved by Justice Isa, his wife Sarina Isa and different bar councils and associations, did not attend Wednesday’s meeting since he had already made known his intentions not to attend the session.

However, Justice Bandial was present in the second session which had taken up a different reference moved by President Dr Arif Alvi against a Sindh High Court judge, K.K. Agha, at the same time when the reference was filed against Justice Isa.

Justice Agha is also facing allegations that though he had declared his foreign properties in 2018, he failed to disclose their value and that he concealed his immovable properties in Pakistan prior to the tax year 2015 despite the fact that his annual income was over Rs1 million.

Earlier, the SJC, which was to meet on April 14, had postponed its meeting to April 28 to decide whether it should proceed afresh against Justice Faez Isa on the basis of FBR’s findings it had received on three offshore properties.

SJC Chairman Justice Gulzar Ahmed, according to the June 19, 2020, short order by a 10-judge SC bench, which had taken up a number of petitions challenging the filing of presidential reference against Justice Isa, had to lay before the council a report furnished by the FBR for consideration, action or proceedings in relation to Justice Isa.

The SJC had to take up the FBR report under which it had slapped a whopping tax penalty of Rs35 million on Sarina Isa on Sept 14, 2020, over non-declaration of the three offshore properties in her name as well as in the name of her children.

However, the SJC decided not to proceed any further after the Supreme Court’s short order which declared all the subsequent proceedings, actions, orders information and reports in pursuance of the directives issued through the June 19, 2020, verdict as well as the detailed reasons of that short order as illegal and without any legal effect.

The order had also made it clear that no forum, including the SJC, would consider or peruse any report, or order or hold proceedings or actions.

As a result of the fresh order, paragraphs four to 11 in the June 19 short order and the subsequent detailed judgement of Oct 23, 2020, were recalled.

These paragraphs were challenged by the petitioners who dubbed them superfluous, contradictory, excessive and unlawful and thus liable to be deleted from the short order.