–SC judge says leaking of selected passages points to mala fide, protests media trial
–Says neither he nor his family have received notices about foreign assets
–SCBA president threatens to lock down courts on June 14 over reference against Justice Isa
ISLAMABAD: Hours after the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) threatened to protest inside courtrooms if a presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa is not withdrawn by June 14, the senior judge of the apex court wrote another letter to President Arif Alvi rejecting the charge of misconduct against him pertaining to alleged non-disclosure of foreign properties in his tax returns.
In a five-page letter to the president, Justice Isa wrote,” Mr President my due process and fair trial constitutional protection has been violated even before the council has issued me a notice and I have had an opportunity to submit my reply to the reference.”
He questioned whether leaking selected documents in the press did not point to ulterior motives.
The apex court judge said that senior officials of the Ministry of Law and Ministry of Information, and treasury members were spreading selected parts of the reference filed against him with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) by the federal government.
He noted that government members were speaking about the reference in the press and terming it a “grasp of accountability”.
“Mr President, is this behaviour appropriate and in accordance with the law,” the letter read.
Justice Isa noted that the president, prime minister, federal ministers and judges take an oath before assuming their offices.
He questioned whether spreading selective content and speaking about was not a violation of the oath.
He said that though he is not obligated to disclose his financial affairs in public, yet he is doing it voluntarily to counter the campaign against him.
Justice Isa said that he has always abided by Pakistan’s tax laws and there are currently no outstanding taxes against him.
“The person who brought the charges of misconduct against me should have probed my assets properly. The properties belong to my children and are completely legal. They are in my children’s names and no effort has been made to conceal them through a trust or an offshore company,” he stated.
He added that neither he nor any of his family member had received any notice regarding their foreign assets.
‘SCBA VOWS TO LOCK DOWN COURTS:
Earlier in the day while addressing a press conference in the federal capital, SCBA President Amanullah Kanrani said, “Justice Isa is being punished for the sins he never committed”.
“Tell me, which article Justice Isa has violated? If you talk about the code of conduct, then no judge will remain here”.
Kanrani hoped Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa would “tear apart the reference papers” and said: “I will burn a copy of the reference against Justice Isa inside the courtroom.”
The SCBA president added: “When you disqualify politicians on Article-62 and 63, judges should not have the right to make decisions about themselves. A third party should take decisions against the judges. The parliament should decide about the judges.”
The SCBA and the government came face-to-face after President Arif Alvi filed a complaint at the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against alleged misconduct of Justice Isa and another apex court judge, who allegedly hold foreign properties either in their names or through their spouses.
Following the controversy, the SCBA demanded President Arif Alvi’s impeachment for filing the reference while superior bars expressed solidarity with the top court judge.
“We will not leave Justice Isa to get targeted. We are not against accountability but against discrimination. We respect all the judges, including the chief justice of Pakistan,” continued Kanrani on Monday.
Giving details of the protests, he added, “Our protest will not be an ordinary one. We will now protest inside courtrooms, we will lock down the courts. Now the culprits will be dragged on the streets. We will not burn the streets but the courtrooms.”
The SCBA president, however, refused to apologise and said, “Whoever tries to do politics on Justice Qazi Faez Isa, should do politics on our [dead] bodies.”
“We will not wait for any phone call; we will not end the protest over any call. There are 350 complaints across the country. We will not let Justice Qazi Faez Isa be sacrificed.”
Kanrani said, “On the basis of Article-209, an honest judge is being targeted and this is the reason why all the lawyers have taken a firm stand for him.”
According to the SCBA president, “If the reference is not withdrawn on June 14 then references against all the judges will be opened. They will not be able to find any judge after June 14 because every judge will be found in the court box.”
Last week, SCBA demanded President Alvi’s impeachment for filing the reference against Justice Isa.
Urging parliamentarians to file an impeachment reference against the president, Kanrani had termed Alvi a “dummy president” and added that he had “no rhyme or reason to hold office”.
Many observers see the reference as an attempt to intimidate Justice Isa over his verdict pertaining to Faizabad sit-in. Additional Attorney General Zahid F Ebrahim on Wednesday resigned from his post, accusing the government of attempting to “browbeat the judiciary”.
The superior judge had given a verdict pertaining to the sit-in, which was highly critical of the military’s involvement in political activities and asked it to remain within the constitutional ambit.
It had directed the Defence Ministry and chiefs of the army, navy and air force to penalise the personnel under their command found to have violated their oath.
His verdict also criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for 2014 sit-in that, according to the verdict, had set a precedent for the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) protest in the capital that had paralysed the twin cities for over 20 days.
The verdict had ruffled many a feather and at least three review petitions were filed against the verdict. In a petition filed by PTI, it said the judgement “suffers from defects” and “needs to be reviewed to avoid injustice”.
The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) approached the court through the Ministry of Defence to contest the verdict.