Friday July 12, 2024

Justice Qazi Faez Isa becomes new chief justice amid hopes for supremacy of Constitution

The senior-most judge becomes Pakistan's 29th top judge after retirement of his predecessor Umar Ata Bandial

By Maryam Nawaz
September 17, 2023

Justice Qazi Faez Isa was on Sunday sworn in as the 29th chief justice of Pakistan following the retirement of his predecessor Umar Ata Bandial a day earlier.

President Dr Arif Alvi administered the oath — with high-ranking government and military officials including caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, Army Chief General Asim Munir, senators, foreign ambassadors, and other dignitaries in attendance — during the ceremony held at the President House in Islamabad.

Justice Isa's tenure as the country's chief justice will be relatively brief, as he is slated to retire from the top judicial post on October 25, 2024.

He took the oath as the apex court's judge on September 5, 2014. Despite being the senior puisne judge, he was not assigned any constitutional case for the past three years following a presidential reference filed against him in 2019.

The newly-appointed top judge of the country was born on October 26, 1959, in Quetta. His father, late Qazi Mohammad Isa, was a prominent leader in the Pakistan Movement and a close associate of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

After completing his initial education in Quetta, Justice Isa pursued O and A levels studies from the Karachi Grammar School. He then moved to London to pursue his higher education in law to complete the bar professional examination at the Inns of Court School of Law.

He joined the Balochistan High Court on January 30, 1985, and became an advocate of the Supreme Court in March 1998. After an emergency was declared during the Pervez Musharraf era in November 3, 2007, Justice Isa decided not to appear before judges who took oath under the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).

At the same time, after the decision of November 3 was annulled by the Supreme Court, the Balochistan High Court judges resigned, while Justice Isa was directly appointed as the judge of the provincial high court on August 5, 2009.

He remained associated with the field of law for 27 years before being appointed as a judge in the Balochistan High Court and the Supreme Court. During this time, his assistance was sought in various important cases by different high courts and the Supreme Court, as well as for handling international arbitrations.

For the past five months, Justice Isa — who took the oath as an SC judge on September 5, 2014 — has engaged in chamber work only. As a form of protest following his disagreement with chief justice on suo motu powers, he has refrained from participating in any cases.

In March this year, Justice Isa and Justice Qazi Ameenuddin issued a ruling, stating that hearing of all cases under Article 184(3) should be suspended until the apex court first makes its rules with regards to the SC’s Practice and Procedure Act.

With a 45-year-long career in the legal field, Justice Isa possesses a rich background. Prior to his judicial appointment, he contributed articles on various topics, such as the Constitution, law, Islam, and the environment, to Pakistan's leading English news publications.

He also co-authored a book, 'Mass Media Laws and Regulations in Pakistan', in 1997. Additionally, Justice Isa authored the report 'Balochistan: Case and Demand' published by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) in 2007.

CJP Isa 'stood firm despite pressures'

Taking to X, senior journalist Mazhar Abbas described the new chief justice’s decision to form full court to hear the petition against the Practice and Procedure Act as the beginning of a new era.

“Finally the full court was formed to hear an important case of Practice and Procedure Act, the first headed by new Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Monday. Beginning of a new era and one hope to see rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution,” he wrote.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said despite pressures and malicious propaganda, CJP Isa “stood firm, fought the good fight and won”.

He said that nation “expects him [CJP Isa] to preserve, protect & promote Quaid’s commitment to Rule of Law, constitutionalism, minority rights, since Pakistan itself is a product of democracy!”

Congratulating the newly-appointed top judge, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf congratulated Justice Qazi Faiz Isa expressed hoped that the institutions providing justice under the leadership of Chief Justice Justice Qazi Faiz Isa will work in a more active manner.

“For the rule of law and provision of justice in the country, it is necessary for the legislature, judiciary and executive to work together,” he added.