SC unanimously declares reference against Justice Isa null and void

Seven judges decide to send the matter to FBR: Three bench members write dissenting note: Detailed verdict to be issued later

By: News Desk      Published: 11:48 AM, 19 Jun, 2020
SC unanimously declares reference against Justice Isa null and void

The Supreme Court on Friday unanimously declared the presidential reference filed against Justice Faez Isa null and void, saying it was based upon mala fire intentions and the Assets Recovery Unit did not have any authority to investigate the matter, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

Announcing its judgment, the court said the detailed verdict would be announced later, as it accepted the applications filed by Justice Faez and others.

The Supreme Court also declared the show-cause notice issued to Justice Faez by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). However, three judges – Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah – wrote dissenting notes, as they were against sending the matter to the FBR.

The short order said the FBR should issue notices to Justice Faez Isa’s wife separately for the three properties. Later, the FBR chairman would have to inform the Supreme Court registrar himself within 100 days and the SJC can take action, if required, after that. 

Talking to 24NewsHD TV channel, Pakistan Bar Council Vice-Chairman Abid Saqi welcomed the decision and said the presidential reference was an attempt to subjugate and harass not only a judge but also the entire judiciary.

He said the collection of images and information through secret means and spying as surveillance was illegal and unconstitutional.

Similarly, senior lawyer Hamid Khan told reporters outside the Supreme Court building that it was a day of victory for the unity among the lawyers’ community.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court reserved its judgment after Munir A Malik – the counsel for Justice Faez – and the representatives of different bars completed their arguments.

Justice Umar Atta Bandial, who was heading the 10-member bench, observed that they would share in the afternoon the judgment if the judges were able to reach to some conclusion.

In his arguments, Malik started by saying that he was unable to understand what the government’s case was.

He said his client was accused of hiding the properties intentionally, on which Justice Bandial observed that the yesterday’s hearing reinforced the applicant’s stance as his stance was that the documents should first be obtained from Justice Faez’s wife.

On Thursday, the wife of Justice Faez had given the money trail and other details of how she had bought properties in London and said that his husband had nothing to do with that. 

During the hearing on Friday, when Malik questioned whether we want a law under which one institution spies on another, Justice Yahya Afridi asked him if the basic rights of a judge are more important than his oath.

Malik was of the view that the court should not consider the application as a petition concerning the rights of an individual.

About the claim made by the government counsel, Farogh Naseem, that a show-cause notice was issued in the matter of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the applicant’s counsel argued that there was no mention of show-cause notice in Article 209.

The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) had issued a notice to appear in person, he said and added that SJC could not review the conduct and ill-intentions of the president. The only purpose of SJC is to determine the facts, Malik argued.

The applicant’s counsel also said that the prime minister did not have powers to establish another agency or organisation. Changes in rules were necessary before the formation of Assets Recovery Unit and its ToRs were against the law, he added.

An organisation like Assets Recovery Unit cannot be established without proper legislation, argued Malik.

When Justice Afridi asked him why his client moved the apex court after the show-cause notice issued by the SJC, the senior lawyer said the Council could not provide the relief required by Justice Faez. 

Farogh Naseem had said that Justice Faez was late in moving the Supreme Court but actually it was the government counsel who boarded the wrong bus, he remarked.

The government moved the SJC instead of consulting the FBR, Malik said and added that Justice Faez had challenged the reference to protect his honour and also that of the judiciary.

Similarly, the representatives of different bar council, which had filed applications in favour of Justice Faez, described the presidential reference as illegal and based upon ill intentions.

Earlier, Justice Bandial asked Farogh Naseem to present the FBR record in a sealed envelope and observed that they would not pass any order on that. The wife Justice Faez had shared all the required documents, he added.

On Thursday, the wife of Justice Faez Isa told the Supreme Court that her husband had nothing to do with the agriculture land – located in Jacobabad and Dera Murad Jamali – which she inherited from his father or the properties purchased in London.

According to Justice Faez’s wife, she bought her first property in the UK in 2004 and she had been working at the American School in Karachi. Rehan Naqvi was her legal advisor who had advised that the agriculture income wasn’t taxable. She was awarded a tax certificate by the government after submitting tax returns. However, her tax record was shifted to Islamabad from Karachi and the FBR did not give any clarification why it had been done.

Meanwhile, the FBR did not cooperate with her, making her wait for hours and visit from one person to another.

Justice Faez’s wife, who repeatedly sobbed while sharing her version, said the money was transferred to London through a bank account registered in her name. The London bank account was also in her name, she said and added that the documents shared with the court were genuine; however, the time given to her was limited.

The details shared by her also show that one of the properties was bought for 236,000 pounds and a total amount of 0.7 million pounds was transferred.

Another property was purchased at a cost of 245,000 pounds where her son lives, while the third one costing 270,000 pounds is registered jointly in her and her daughter’s name.

Two of these two properties have been rented out while her son is the occupant of the one. However, she is not paying taxes now in the UK and Pakistan.

She also noted that the complete tax returns of the UK from the year 2016 were shared and the British government had also refunded the amount as she paid more tax than required.

In her statement, she also told the court that the properties bought in Clifton and Shah Latif were later sold.

About her personal life and other problems/ harassment she has been facing, she said they had married on December 25, 1983, and remarked that she didn’t know at that time she would buy a property 21 years later in London.

Her CNIC was made in 2003 at a time when her husband wasn’t a judge and it was later renewed after it expired. The name listed in the CNIC is Serena Isa as her father is a Spanish and she too has a Spanish passport.

She was wrongly accused of using the judge’s office despite the fact that she got a five-year visa at a time when Justice Faez was a lawyer. Later, he hadn’t still joined judiciary when the visa was renewed.

According to Serena, she was given a one-year visa only in 2020 and that too after being harassed. A case has been developed against her as if she is a mastermind criminal.