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April 23, 2021

Justice Isa review plea: 3 judges exchange barbs over time

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April 23, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) larger bench, seized with Justice Qazi Faze Isa review petition, Thursday halted the proceedings for a short while after some judges exchanged harsh words.

As compared to the previous day proceedings, which remained calm, the Thursday's proceedings were tense due to exchange of bitter words between there judges on the bench. A 10-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 (FBR), directing it to initiate tax proceedings against spouse and children of Justice Qazi Faez Isa. Additional Attorney General (AAG) Aamir Rehman, while continuing his arguments, cited various judgments of the apex court. Justice Maqbool Baqir, however, asked the law officer to compact his arguments, saying the court was running short of time. "Mr Aamir Rehman, you are very reasonable person; therefore, it would be better if you complete your arguments as early as you can," Justice Baqir told him.

Justice Baqir asked the law officer to provide them references of judicial precedents and they would read it.

“We had also told the other party repeatedly to shorten their arguments as the court was running short of time,” Justice Baqir reminded the law officer, adding that the whole world was eyeing the case. But if someone wants to prolong the matter, then it’s a different issue.

Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah also reminded the law officer that their colleague and member of the bench Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik is going to retire, hence he should shorten his arguments.

Justice Muneeb Akhtar, another member of the bench, however, asked Additional Attorney to continue his arguments.

“There is no race going on here, so continue your arguments," Justice Muneeb Akhtar told the law officer.

This prompted Justice Baqir to retaliate and he said that that was not a way to interrupt and talk to a senior judge.

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, another member of the bench, however observed that the court had time so the law officer could continue and he should not be asked to compact his arguments.

Justice Sajjad said the law officer could be given timeframe for completing his arguments.

Justice Maqbool Baqir remarked that coercive attitude would not be allowed in the courtroom.

At this, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah said if Justice Maqbool Baqir kept that attitude, then he would get up and leave.

“I can also leave, enough is enough," Justice Baqir said, stood up and left the courtroom.

Meanwhile, Justice Umer Ata Bandial announced that they were retiring for a short while and adjourned the proceedings.

Later, after the short break, the court resumed hearing. Justice Bandial said that “when you cannot drink water, you can breathe in fresh air. Due to fasting, we can also breathe in fresh air,” the judge added.

Meanwhile, Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman, who is a very polite law officer, said he apologises if Justice Baqir got offended.

Justice Baqir, who is also very polite and always speaks in a very humble manner during the course of hearing, replied that he was not offended.

Justice Bandial said that “our brother Justice Baqir is darling of the bench”.

In his arguments, the law officer submitted that he would extensively discuss Article 187 of the Constitution, which empowers the Supreme Court to issue directions, orders or decree for doing complete justice in any case or matter, pending before it, including an order for the purpose of securing the attendance of any person or the discovery or production of any document.

Aamir Rehman said Sarina Isa was provided full opportunity to defend her case, while the court had also heard her spouse, the petitioner judge in detail.

Endorsing the court order of sending the matter of Sarina Isa to the FBR, the AAG submitted that the court’s main purpose of giving deadline to the tax authority was aimed to conclude the case early.

He submitted that the FBR was the appropriate forum for Sarina Isa and the court did not give any order against her, adding that before sending the matter to the FBR, the court had heard Mrs Sarina.

“Had the FBR not complied with the court order, she could have faced contempt of court,” Aamir Rehman contended, adding that review could not be filed if the tax authority made any mistake.

He submitted that Sarina Isa had filed the documents in the FBR regarding the matter, hence no such points could be raised in the review petition as the scope of review was very limited.

The AAG submitted that various judgments were in field regarding the powers and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. He said that in the Hajj corruption case, the court had sent the matter for investigation without hearing the accused persons.

Meanwhile, the court adjourned the hearing for today (Friday) and the law officer may conclude his arguments.