Presidential reference: SC takes up Qazi Isa, others’ pleas today

September 17,2019

ISLAMABAD: The legal fraternity is going to raise objections to two members of the larger bench of the Supreme Court, constituted for hearing the petition of Justice Qazi Faez Isa who had challenged...

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ISLAMABAD: The legal fraternity is going to raise objections to two members of the larger bench of the Supreme Court, constituted for hearing the petition of Justice Qazi Faez Isa who had challenged the presidential reference filed against him, seeking his removal over his alleged non-disclosure of assets.

A seven-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial will take up Tuesday the petition filed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, challenging the presidential reference.

Other members of the bench are Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.

Apart from Justice Qazi Faez Isa, several Bar Associations and Councils including Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), Sindh High Court Bar Association, Quetta Bar Association through its president Muhammad Asif Reki, Balochistan Bar Council, Balochistan High Court Bar Association, Sindh Bar Council through Senate former chairman and lawyer Raza Rabbani as well as a joint petition filed by advocate Abid Hassan Manto and I A Rehman, had also challenged the presidential reference filed against Justice Isa and Justice KK Agha of Sindh High Court.

Senior lawyer and former president Supreme Court Bar Association Rashid A Rizvi will raise objections to the presence of Justice Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsen on the larger bench.

“We will verbally raise objections today during the hearing to the two members who will be the beneficiaries of Justice Isa’s proposed removal,” Rizvi told The News.

According to him, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood will be the greatest beneficiary if Justice Qazi Faez is impeached by the Supreme Judicial Council.

Rashid A Rizvi, who will be the lead council on behalf of Sindh High Court Bar Association, said that he will ask verbally, the two members to recuse from the larger bench adding that there is no need of moving a separate application in this regard.

He said that precedent is there in the past cases of apex court where judges recused from the benches on objections. Similarly, Pakistan Bar Council is also likely to raise objections to the two members of the larger bench. It is pertinent to mention here that as per seniority list of SC judges, their elevation and retirement either as judge or chief justice of the apex court, after the retirement of next Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed on February 1, 2022, Justice Umar Ata Bandial will take over as next Chief Justice and will continue till his retirement on September 16, 2023. If Justice Qazi Faez Isa continued as judge, he will be sworn as Chief Justice of Pakistan on September 17, 2023 and will remain as such till his retirement on October 25, 2024.

Meantime, three judges including Justice Maqbool Baqir will retire on April 4, 2022, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik will retire on April 30, 2021 and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood will retire on March 10, 2024.

However, in a scenario, if Justice Qazi Faez Isa is impeached and removed as judge of the Supreme Court by the Supreme Judicial Council, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood will take over as the Chief Justice of Pakistan and will continue his office for seven months till his retirement on March 10, 2024.

Thereafter, Justice Ijazul Ahsen will sworn in as Chief Justice of Pakistan on March 11, 2024 instead of October 25, 2024, which is the date of retirement of Justice Umar Ata Bandial.

Meanwhile, legal circles believe that in case, both the members of the larger bench recuse themselves or leave in view of the objections of the petitioners, the bench will be disbanded and the matter will be referred to the chief justice again for reconstitution of the bench which might take some time.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that senior lawyer and former Attorney General Munir A Malik will represent Justice Qazi Faez Isa in his petition challenging the presidential reference filed against him.

Sources close to Munir A Malik confirmed that the former attorney general did not return to US, where his brother is undergoing medical treatment but will argue before the larger bench on behalf of Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

Likewise, a strong panel, comprising senior legal wizards of the country will be arguing on behalf of bar associations and councils, challenging the presidential references against the two judges of the superior courts.

It was learnt that senior lawyer Hamid Khan will be the lead council of Supreme Court Bar Association.

SCBA President Amanullah Kanrani confirmed to The News that Hamid Khan will be the lead council on behalf of the association while senior lawyer, Rashid A Rizvi will be on the panel as well.

Likewise, Senate former chairman Raza Rabbani will represent the Sindh Bar Council, Haji Ata Ullah Langove will plead on behalf of Balochistan Bar Council for being its chairman while Syed Basit Shah will represent Balochistan High Court Bar Association being its president.

The larger bench will start at 9:30am, proceeding on the instant petitions.


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