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June 4, 2020

Justice Faez Isa case: Which law requires judges to declare family assets, asks SC

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June 4, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday sought written replies from the federal government on the legal status of the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) as well as the presidential reference allegedly filed on mala fide basis against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The reference against Justice Isa accuses him of concealing his properties in the United Kingdom allegedly held in the name of his spouse and children.

A ten-member full court, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, resumed hearing in the identical petitions, challenging the presidential reference. Other members of the bench included Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked Farogh Naseem, counsel for the federation, to submit replies to the questions asked about the mala fide of the reference as well as the legal status of the ARU.

The judge further directed him to also answer whether the Supreme Judicial Council could initiate suo motu proceedings if there were any flaws in the presidential reference.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah questioned in how many cases the ARU had proceeded against the people holding public offices.

While Justice Maqbool Baqir observed that it would be examined whether or not the spouse and children of the petitioner judge were dependent.

“We will have to examine the status of the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU)”, Justice Baqir added. Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked the federal counsel to tell about the corruption of petitioner judge adding that no allegation of corruption had been leveled against him.

The judge said prime facie it seemed that the tax law was not followed.

Farogh Naseem, however, submitted that before addressing the questions asked by the court the other day, he wanted to bring some facts before the apex court.

He informed the court that on April 10, 2010 Abdul Waheed Dogar dispatched a complaint to ARU and on May 8, he wrote a letter to the Unit about London’s properties, wherein he gave information about the value and market price of these properties.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah asked the counsel as to who published on internet, the information regarding London properties adding that as to who allowed inquiry into the complaint of Abdul Waheed Dogar.

The judge further asked as to how the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) started proceeding on the complaint.

The federation counsel replied that he had all the answers to the questions but said that after 1988, the record of every property was open in the UK and the ARU was fully supported by law.

Justice Bandial asked Farogh Naseem that he was talking about the money trail but apparently the matter related to tax adding that in the instant case the petitioner judge had not been alleged for corruption but he did not disclose his London properties, which he was required to do so.

“It’s true but the spouse and children of the petitioner judge also did not disclose their London properties”, Farogh Naseem replied.

He said the children of the judge completed their education in 2011 and 2013 then how could they purchase expensive properties while they were young.

The federation counsel further submitted that there was no doubt that Qazi family was rich but record did not show tax on agricultural land.

At this, Justice Maqbool Baqir asked Naseem as to why the FBR did not take action on this.

Farogh Naseem replied that the FBR authorities did not take notice fearing that if they took action against the judge, they would be summoned in the court.

Farogh Naseem submitted that Rules of Business of the Federal Government authorize the ARU to start inquiry into a complaint and for this purpose; the approval of the president was not required.

He further submitted that the Judicial Council did not issue notice to the judge after filing the reference but first heard the viewpoint of the Attorney General and later on asked the judge to submit his reply.

He said the petitioner judge in his initial reply did not deny the London properties adding that the Council on July 12, 2019 issued a show cause notice to the judge.

Justice Bandial observed that Article 209 of the Constitution protects the judiciary adding that foreign properties were acquired in the names of children and in 2009 the income of the petitioner judge was Rs3,72,00,000/- and it seems that he had a sufficient money and was a successful lawyer.

The judge asked the federation counsel to show corruption and mala fide of the petitioner judge. “Tell us something that could establish a crime”, Justice Bandial asked the counsel adding that a judge is in a mirror house but answerable.

He further said that the constitution fully protect a judge from personal attacks.

“Show us something that establish that the judge has purchased the properties in the name of his family”, Justice Bandial told Naseem.

The judge further asked the federal counsel to cite any law whereby it was mandatory for a judge to disclose his and his family properties.

Under section 5, it is not mandatory for any judge to disclose his foreign properties”, Justice Bandial asked the counsel.

Justice Yahya Afridi asked the federation counsel whether the Supreme Judicial Council can reject the presidential reference or whether it can declare the reference as illegal.

Naseem replied in affirmative adding that as per constitution, the Council has to give recommendations.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah observed that if the Council can give a declaration on the Presidential Reference then there would be no results of the observations and declaration of the Council.

Justice Maqbool Baqir observed that the court will examine as to whether spouse and children of the petitioner judge were dependent or not while they will also examine the status of the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU).

Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing for today (Thursday).