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August 20, 2017

NA speaker’s reference against Justice Khosa?

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August 20, 2017

ISLAMABAD: After the media reports that circulated the whole day and sparked the storm that the speaker National Assembly has filed a reference against the Supreme Court Judge Justice Asif Saeed Khosa in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), Ayaz Sadiq eventually denied filing any such reference.

The speaker said while talking to a private news channel that someone has drafted the purported draft on the media very carefully and with lot of effort. He said the purported draft carries important points, however, it is not genuine.

The National Assembly Secretariat also came out with a clarification on Saturday evening that the speaker has not filed any reference against any judge. 

In a brief text message, spokesperson for the National Assembly Secretariat denied the reports of sending reference against Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, asking media to refrain
from any exaggeration or attributing false statements to the speaker. "News regarding the speaker is false and speculation should be refrained from," said the spokesperson.

The denial came hours after media reports claimed that the National Assembly speaker has filed a reference against Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who was head of apex court’s five-member bench that had delivered its ruling in Panama Papers case.

Earlier, it was reported that a debate regarding the filing of reference against Supreme Court's judge by Ayaz Sadiq continued with certain quarters claiming that no reference is being prepared at the moment. Sources in the National Assembly Secretariat told The News that no reference has been sent to the SJC, nor it was drafted.

The alleged draft of the reference or complaint against Justice Khosa by Ayaz Sadiq was shown and posted in mainstream electronic and online media and the political commentators gave their diversified opinion on this hot topic.

Sources said it is quite clear that the alleged draft of the reference was circulated by the people associated with the ruling party but one cannot give a sweeping statement about their real motive behind this move. When contacted, a couple of government officials also denied preparation of reference against Justice Khosa stating, "We have also heard it through media that the NA speaker has filed complaint against Justice Khosa. But there is no truth in it as it is a fabricated news."

Reportedly, the alleged reference used unusually harsh language against honourable Justice Khosa, including the statement that the honourable judge "miserably failed to comprehend and appreciate" the speaker's powers under the Constitution; that he "is either totally ignorant of the provisions of the Constitution [...] or he has been prejudiced by his pre-inclination to condemn the constitutional offices of the state"; and that the judge's continuation in office would give him "further opportunity to write such biased, ill-founded and disputed judgments."

Other accusations included Justice Khosa's alleged contempt for the speaker's position according to the Warrant of Precedent and the insinuation that the honourable judge "tarnished the noble image and reputation enjoyed by the judiciary in Pakistan and the comity of nations."

It was also stated that under the Supreme Judicial Council's Procedure Of Inquiry, 2005, the punishment for a frivolous complaint against a sitting judge is detailed as follows: "Whenever the Council finds that the information or evidence provided to it was false in material particulars or with the sole intention to malign a judge, or to scandalise the court or to undermine it in any form whatsoever, it may direct action against all those who are found to have provided the said information, or evidence as the case may be."

The 'reference' referred to a section of Justice Khosa's April 20 judgement on the Panama Papers case, in which the judge had observed that the speaker had failed to file a reference against the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The paragraph in question from Justice Khosa's judgement reads as follows: 

"... It is practically he [the Chief Executive of the Federation] who appoints the heads of all the institutions in the country which could have inquired into or investigated the allegations levelled against respondent No. 1 [Nawaz Sharif] and his family on the basis of the Panama Papers. Even the speaker of the National Assembly who could refer the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan belongs to his political party and is his nominee." 

"These petitions had been entertained by this Court in the backdrop of an unfortunate refusal/failure on the part of all the relevant institutions in the country like the National Accountability Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency, the State Bank of Pakistan, the Federal Board of Revenue, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and the speaker of the National Assembly to inquire into or investigate the matter or to refer the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan against respondent No. 1 [Nawaz Sharif].

Interestingly, the document carried no signatures or stamps to suggest where it originated from. 

Meanwhile, opposition leaders Imran Khan, Ch Shujaat Hussain, Pervaiz Ilahi and Sheikh Rashid Ahmad pledged to resist any effort to move Supreme Judicial Council against the honourable SC judge.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday accused NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq of having mala fide intent to protect ex-PM Nawaz Sharif’s corruption.

“Speaker Ayaz Sadiq's reference against Justice Khosa has exposed his mala fide intent of going all out simply to protect Nawaz Sharif's corruption. Ayaz's comment that his office is not an investigative agency raises the question as to how could he forward reference against me & Jahangir Khan Tareen while rejecting reference against Nawaz Sharif,” he charged in messages on social media.

He alleged that Ayaz Sadiq had revealed his bias earlier and now it is clear he is not fit to occupy the office of Speaker NA. He must resign immediately. 

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