SC bench not authorised to hear journalists’ harassment case: Justice Isa
Supreme Court (SC) judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa has objected to the apex court bench constituted to determine the jurisdiction of suo moto notice, reported 24NewsHD TV channel on Wednesday.
In a letter written to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmad, Justice Isa has complained that the two-member bench formed to hear the case of harassment of journalists was not informed prior to the formation of a five-member bench.
“There is no mention in the constitution of a power of the apex court to start monitoring its own bench matters,” he wrote, adding in case such thing happens the entire edifice of justice will come crashing down.
“Truth of the matter is that the newly constituted bench is not empowered to hear the case. And if the five-member bench goes ahead with the hearing of the case, it will be the violation of the constitution,” reads the letter.
Justice Isa wrote that in the past, former CJP Justice Saqib Nisar had removed one of the judges from his bench during the hearing of a case and formed a new bench instead. “Later, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah issued a new order,” he added.
The SC judge wrote that the apex court had not yet pondered over the former CJP’s conduct. “Some CJPs have a desire that they have ‘unbridled’ powers, and that none could dare say a word against them,” he alleged.
He was of the view that CJPs did not have the authority to decide which bench would take up which case. “When I was the chief justice of Balochistan High Court, I had never issued the proposed ‘Cause List’. Appointing a government servant as a registrar Supreme Court is against the constitution,” he wrote.
“Appointment of a government servant as a registrar amounts to obstructing the promotions of judicial officers,” Justice Isa opined.
The SC judge wrote it was unfortunate that while other officers who worked at the apex court on deputation had left, one was allowed to work as a registrar. “He is the same person who had earlier served at the Prime Minister’s office. It appears that the SC has hired his services for free.”
He went on to say that another reason for appointing a government official as apex court registrar was to make sure that the cases of government’s liking were fixed for hearing early, and those it disliked could be put in cold storage. “By penning down a note against my bench, the registrar not only wanted to ‘protect’ the interests of the government but he also his friends and acquaintances,” Justice Isa alleged.
He reminded that a nine-member bench of the Supreme Court had already given the verdict in the suo moto notice case. “The bench has made it clear that Article 184 (3) has extraordinary jurisdiction. Hence the newly formed five-member bench cannot overturn the verdict given by the nine-member bench,” he argued.
The letter further reads that once a suo moto notice was taken of a WhatsApp message received from an unknown number. “That cost the national exchequer the loss of Rs100 billion.”
Justice Isa further wrote that Supreme Court Bar Association President had once said there was a split in the judiciary.
He alleged that he was subjected to criticism because he was performing his duties diligently and honestly.
It is further written in the letter that Justice Maqbool Baqir and I were separated from the bench formed to hear prime minister’s development funds case. “The decision in the case, which was given in haste, was unconstitutional so much so that the CJP had to leave the bench,” the SC judge wrote.
And despite the fact that I was not allowed to give my opinion in the case, I still maintain cordial relations with my fellow judges, Justice Isa said, and while referring to himself, added, “Who can deny the fact that one of the SC judges is being persecuted?”
Towards the end, Justice Qazi Faez Isa appealed to the CJP to upload a copy of the letter on the Supreme Court’s website.
Reporter Amanat Gishkori