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December 3, 2019

Justice Faez Isa case: SC seeks trail of govt letters

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December 3, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday observed that there should be a complete trail of letters written by the government with regard to probe into foreign assets of Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s spouse and children as links seem missing in the reference filed by the president against him.

The apex court was told on Monday that the Presidential Reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa was based on illegality, hence any superstructure built on illegality must fall on the ground.

A 10-member full court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial resumed hearing into the identical petitions, challenging the Presidential Reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa for allegedly not disclosing his foreign properties in his wealth returns.

Other members of the bench are Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice FaisalArab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Muhammad Qazi Amin Ahmed.

Continuing his arguments, Munir A Malik, counsel for Justice Qazi Faez Isa submitted before the court that in relation to the formation of opinion, the President is required to apply his mind when material for filing a reference was collected in accordance with law and by the competent authority.

The President cannot form an opinion for filing a reference if the material was collected in illegal manner”, Munir A Malik contended. He further submitted that the reference was based on illegality therefore any superstructure built on illegality must falls on the ground. Therefore, he submitted that as the instant reference was based on illegality, it should be dismissed in the best interest of justice.

He while citing various laws pertaining to tax as well as referring to various section of Income Ordinances contended that the common law itself recognised the duty of confidentiality. The tax matter purely is a matter between the taxpayer and the Income Tax Commissioner”, the Malik submitted adding that even the Prime minister could not ask the tax officer to share tax details of an individual.

He submitted that the disclosure can only be made in reaction to an investigation under a criminal matter. He read out Section 198 of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 that relates to Prosecution for unauthorised disclosure of information by a public servant.

Section 198 states, “A person who discloses any particulars in contravention of section 216 shall commit an offence punishable on conviction with a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both. To a query, Malik submitted that the Supreme Judicial Council could seek such type of information under the law.

The counsel further submitted that Chairman Asset Recovery Unit Shahzad Akbar could not ask the Federal Board of Revenue as well as National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) for providing data of anyone.

There should be a competent authority to conduct an investigation against a judge”, Munir A Malik submitted. To a query as to which authority will probe, Malik replied that the Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR). Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing for today (Tuesday).

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