The Supreme Court has fixed Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s review petition against its majority judgment to refer the matter to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for conducting an inquiry into his family members’ undeclared foreign assets for Wednesday (October 28).
A seven-judge larger bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed will take up the case.
Three judges namely Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Yahya Afridi, who didn’t endorse the majority view about referring the matter to the FBR, are not included in the large bench.
One of the larger bench members, Justice Arab, is retiring on October 4. Interestingly, two judges, who were members of the full court, have yet to issue their opinions. Both the judges did not endorse the majority view to refer the matter to the FBR.
Meanwhile, counsel for one the petitioners stated that they have yet to receive certified copies of the detailed judgment to file additional grounds for reviewing the judgment.
A ten-judge full court on June 19 quashed a presidential reference that accused that Justice Isa had committed misconduct by not disclosing his family member’s foreign properties and sought his removal.
In the split order, seven of the judges had, however, referred the case to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and ordered the tax authority to launch an inquiry into foreign assets of Justice Isa’s family.
The short order had asked the FBR chairman to present a report on the basis of the inquiry to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), the constitutional forum that can hold a superior court judge accountable, and the SJC, according to some legal expert, could revive the reference and initiate proceedings against Isa.
Sarina Isa, Justice Qazi Faez Isa and the Pakistan Bar Council had filed separate appeals against the June 19 order. Some other lawyer bodies, including the Supreme Court Bar Association, have also filed review petitions.
Challenging the short order, Sarina Isa said the new class of people that the SC order has created includes the spouses and children of judges, with their assets and liabilities being elevated to the status of public importance impinging on the fundamental rights of all citizens of Pakistan.
She said the creation of such a class backed by a judicial order without any foundation in law may be seen to be invidious and discriminatory. The petitioner said under Article 194 of the Constitution, all judges of the superior courts take the same oath, under the third schedule.
“All judges of the superior courts abide by the same code of conduct, and their violation of the same is dealt with by the same forum, the SJC, under Article 209 of the Constitution.
“However, it is to the exclusion of all other members of this class, created by the Supreme Court under Article 184(3), that the petitioner and her children are being singled out and targeted.”
The petitioner said she and her children are being made to explain their sources of income to the exclusion of the spouses and children of all 139 sitting chief justices and judges of the superior courts.
Crux of the detailed ruling is that the majority judges quashed the presidential reference on the basis of “mala fide in law” and not “mala fide in facts”.
There is no adverse finding against the military establishment. There are harsh comments about President Dr Arif Alvi, Minister for Law Dr Farogh Naseem and the former AGP Anwar Mansoor Khan. The court has, however, stopped short of passing directions against them.
The judgment did not endorse Justice Isa contention on mala fide in facts, surveillance of his family members, legality of the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) and alleged media campaign against him, etc