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May 30, 2019

Justice Isa seeks clarity from President about reference

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May 30, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa, a senior Judge of the Supreme Court (SC), has contacted the c, asking if a reference has been filed against him and if so, he should be provided its copy.

In a letter dispatched to President of Pakistan on Tuesday, Justice Qazi Faez Isa informed the President that he has come to know that government sources are stating that a reference has been filed against him under Article 209 of the Constitution.

“I will be obliged if you could let me know whether this is correct, and if it is, to kindly provide me with a copy as well,” a source quoted Justice Isa as stating while writing to the President.

The source, who has witnessed the contents of the letter, told The News that Justice Qazi Faez Isa told the president, “I am confident that you will agree that if a reference has been filed and I have been called upon to submit a reply, only then to the permission of the Supreme Judicial Council, the government may disclose the reference and my response thereto.”

Justice Isa, according to the source, further told the President that selective leaks amount to character assassination, and jeopardize his right to due process and fair trial and undermines the institutions of the judiciary.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the copies of the Justice Isa’s letter were also dispatched to Prime Minister as well as Registrar of the Supreme Court.

It is pertinent to mention here that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) the other day filed references before Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against two judges of high courts and one of the SC for alleged misconduct having properties abroad and failing to mention it in their wealth statements.

President Arif Alvi had filed the references with the Supreme Judicial Council under Article 209 of the Constitution against three judges including one judge of the Supreme Court and one each of Sindh and Lahore High Courts.

Despite repeated attempts by The News, there was no official confirmation from the secretary Supreme Judicial Council in this regard. An official of the Ministry of Law and Justice, however, has confirmed to The News of filing of references against these judges.

Sources said that these three judges were alleged in the reference for having properties abroad either through their own names or their spouses but they did not disclose it in their wealth statements.

It was learnt that a reference accuses that a sitting judge of the Supreme Court has been alleged for having a property in Spain in his spouse’s name but the learned judge has not disclosed it in the wealth statement. Similarly, sources informed that the two judges of Sindh and Lahore High Courts are alleged of having properties in United Kingdom (UK).

It was learnt that the Ministry of Law and Justice with the coordination of former judges of Supreme Court and high courts who took oath on Provisional Constitution Order (PCO) drafted the reference against the three judges.

Zahid F Ebrahim resigns

Later, in a recent development on Wednesday, Zahid F Ebrahim, the additional attorney general, resigned from his office in protest after the government filed a reference with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against three judges of the superior courts.

Ebrahim, son of late Karachi-based lawyer and former Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ebrhaim, tendered his resignation before President of Pakistan Arif Alvi terming the government’s move of filing a reference against the judges of the superior courts as a “reckless attempt to tar the reputation of independent individuals and is browbeating the judiciary of Pakistan.”

“In my humble view, this is not about accountability of judges but it is a reckless attempt to tar the reputation of independent individuals and is browbeating the judiciary of Pakistan,” Ebrahim wrote in his resignation letter available with The News.

“Unless resisted, it will cause irreparable damage to the institution which is the protector of our fundamental rights and the bedrock of our fledgling democracy,” he further wrote.

The former AAG wrote in the resignation letter that he came to know through media that the President has instituted references directing the Supreme Judicial Council to inquire into the alleged misconduct of certain senior judges of the high court of Sindh and the Supreme Court under Article 209 of the Constitution on the pretext of undeclared foreign assets.

“The same has been duly confirmed to me by persons at the highest levels of the government,” Ebrahim wrote and submitted that in view of this, he cannot in good conscience continue in office and so he tenders his resignation as the Additional Attorney General for Pakistan with immediate effect.

'Government attacking judges'

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, meanwhile, said the government was attacking the judges who follow the rule of law as the government was not only making conspiracy against them but also trying to oust them from the courts. “There were also conspiracies against the judges and they wanted selected judges, selected opposition and selected journalists but we rejected the selected government,” he said, adding that the PPP announced that it will come out on streets as democracy under threat, human rights were under threat, economic and political rights of the people were also under attack.

The PPP chairman said he still remembers the era of Musharraf when they wanted to oust the judges and the same tactics were being used by remnants of Musharraf.

He said it was duty of the political parties to come out and tell people how their rights were being snatched. “It is unfortunate that so much blood is spilled, so many lives lost, so much progress being made but we are looking a Pakistan not much different than it was in 2006 in the era of dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf,” he said.

Maryam Nawaz responds

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz accused that government is removing those judges who announced the verdicts according to rule and law. In a statement, Maryam said that the judges who did not follow the orders of government were being removed. She said the PML-N would resist any move against the honorable judges. Maryam said that filing references against honourable judges is a dictatorial decision by a “fake government” and implies its insecurity. Referring to the dismissal of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, she said that what started with the sacking of an Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge has now transformed into a full-fledged act of oppression.

She urged the legal fraternity and members of the civil society to act against such decisions with the same intensity with which they opposed the decisions of former military dictator General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. She alleged that the government is removing judges that do not take dictation and give out judgments purely on a legal basis.

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