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April 22, 2021

Justice Isa refuses to answer SC questions

Top Story

April 22, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned as to whether corruption was not an issue for the judges and if it was legal for them, while Justice Qazi Faez Isa refused to answer queries of the court about his legal connections regarding money trail for purchasing properties in the United Kingdom (UK), saying, if answered, it will be tantamount to weaken his case.

A ten-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umer Ata Bandial resumed hearing in the identical review petitions against its last year order of June 19, referring the matter to the Federal Board of Revenue, directing to initiate tax proceedings against spouse and children of Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The court on Tuesday gave an option to Justice Isa asking him that if he successfully answered three questions, the case against him might come to an end.

Justice Bandial had asked Justice Isa as to whether he has any relation with the foreign accounts of his spouse Sarina Isa or not.

Second, whether Justice Isa he had any link with the transactions made in foreign currency accounts of his spouse, and the third question as to whether the expenses incurred on purchasing the property had nothing to do with him (Justice Issa).

On Wednesday, Justice Isa submitted before the court his ten-page written reply, refusing to answer the three questions.

The reply said that it came as a complete surprise to the petitioner that Justice Bandial asked a number of questions of fact apparently emanated from Zulfiqar Ahmed’s order and Federal Board of Revenue chairman’s report.

Since Mrs Sarina Isa and the petitioner give no credence to Ahmed’s order and the report, the questions should not have been put, Justice Isa submitted. The petitioner judge said that if he submits to them and answer them he will effectively be endorsing a patent illegality and undermine his own case that nothing can be added to the reference. It is further respectfully submitted that it is not appropriate to introduce the report at the stage of hearing of the said review petitions and if he responds to the queries it will become (1) Reference, Rejoinder, SJCs questions, his wife and children, FBR, chairman’s report, Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) empowered to proceed against him on the basis of the report and said questions, Justice Isa contended.

He further submitted that he wanted to correct a misconception that had been created by Justice Bandial’s saying that he had met with the petitioner

“The petitioner states on oath that he has never once discussed his case with his lordship,” Justice Isa submitted, adding that he had not even gone to the tearoom because he considered that it would be inappropriate to sit with his fellow judges who were hearing his case.

Justice Isa further submitted that he had also requested in writing that the chief justice should not make him sit in any bench with any of the judges hearing his case.

“Justice Umer Ata Bandial was ever so kind to send a bottle of honey from his farm which was returned with thanks as it may create misgivings,” Justice Isa submitted, adding that he and his wife had also politely declined all private invitations extended by any judge because it would bring them in private contact with those hearing their cases.

Justice Isa said that on the retirement of Justice Faisal Arab, he attended his reference and the official dinners held on the premises of the Supreme Court, but for the stated reasons declined all private invitations held in his honor. However, he said that he had interacted with Justice Bandial when performing his duties and to maintain a healthy and happy working relationship.

Justice Isa said that FBR Commissioner Zulfiaqr Ahmed proceeded in haste against Mrs Sarina Isa despite the fact that she had informed him that she had filed a review against the order.

The record confirmed that Zulfiqar Ahmed did not provide a single copy of the numerous documents he purported to rely on nor did he grant her the opportunity of a single hearing despite Mrs Sarina Isa repeatedly asking for them.

During the hearing, Hamid Khan, counsel for the Supreme Court Bar Association, Punjab Bar Council and Balochistan High Court Bar Association concluded his arguments.

Justice Bandial, on behalf of all judges of the bench, appreciated the arguments of Hamid Khan; however, he asked some pertinent questions form the counsel.

Justice Bandial observed that judges comes under the Service of Pakistan, and questioned as to whether they should be given immunity that was not available to the government employees.

“Whether corruption is not an issue for the judges or whether it is legal for them,” Justice Bandial asked Khan.

The counsel replied that this was not the case of a corruption against a judge and no issue of corruption has been raised in the instant case.

Justice Bandial agreed and observed that fortunately this is the not the case of a corruption but a reference had been filed regarding misconduct of a judge. At this Justice Isa asked the counsel to explain the issue in detail.

Khan said that he would throw light in detail in his written synopsis and will be submitted before the court.

Justice Bandial than asked Khan as to whether the quality of accountability should be different than the mode of accountability adopted for the government employees as well as general public.

“For maintaining confidence of the public, the conduct of judges should he above the government employees,” he remarked.

In his arguments, Khan submitted that the Supreme Court has no constitutional and legal powers to fix a deadline for any tax authority or Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to complete an inquiry into the matter of any tax payer and submit its report.

He submitted that the decision of the apex court sending the matter of Mrs Sarina Isa and her children to the FBR was unconstitutional, saying that when the court had quashed the reference against the petitioner judge, all the allegations leveled in the reference had come to an end and the proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) also became dysfunctional.

“No further proceedings can be entertained by the Supreme Judicial Council”, Khan contended.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar observed that it was mentioned in the apex court judgment that the FBR inquiry report would be placed before the SJC.

Khan, however, contended that the SJC works in two ways, one when a reference is filed or a complaint is filed against a judge and second it has also the power of suo motu as well.

But once the Supreme Court quashes a reference removing all the allegations leveled in the said reference, the SJC cannot examine that.

He said that it was established in the facts that the assets of foreign properties were not belong to Justice Isa but to his spouse and his children.

“The SJC had not been established for the inquiry of Justice Isa spouse and children but to look into misconduct of judges of the superior judiciary,” Khan submitted.

He further contended that spouse and children of Justice Isa had not appeared as a party in the Supreme Court nor the SJC could summon them. Moreover the SJC had no jurisdiction to ask the FBR to conduct an inquiry into the matter of petitioner’s judge spouse and children regarding their assets.

The Supreme Court or SJC could not make the spouse of Justice Isa and her children party and send them notices.

Justice Bandial asked the counsel whether the Supreme Court also could not summon them exercising its original jurisdiction of suo motu powers under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

“You wants to say that code of conduct formed for judges does not apply any responsibility over their spouses and children,” Justice Bandial asked Khan.

It had been held in various judgments of the Supreme Court that families of the judges have to be very much careful also,” Justice Bandial told Khan.

In this case, Hamid Khan submitted that the spouse and children were independent and not depended on the petitioner’s judge.

Justice Mansoor asked the counsel as to whether the apex court could pass an order against anyone without hearing to them. “Even if the facts are established whether the apex court can still pass an order without hearing to anyone,” he asked.

Khan replied that no order can be passed without hearing.

Commencing his arguments, Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman submitted that the apex court had quashed the reference against Justice Isa and sent the matter regarding tax matter of spouse of the petitioner’s judge to the FBR.

Rehman claimed that the Supreme Court had the jurisdiction to refer the matter top concerned forum, saying, “We have the example of Panama case.”

The law officer said that the petitioner judge kept away his spouse and children from the proceedings of the main case; however, his spouse Sarina Isa came to the court and later on she claimed that she was not given an opportunity to defend. She had made a statement and produced documents in the court.

Rehman contended that even if the apex court did not send the case to the FBR, the department could itself take notice. According to the FBR, Mrs Sarina Isa did not provide and explain sources of her income. Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing until today (Thursday).