–Lawyers to boycott courts as SJC takes up misconduct reference against Justice Isa on Friday
–SCBA president says reference against SC judge ‘a mere piece of paper’, LBA, Punjab Bar distance themselves from strike call
–Ex-CJP Chaudhry says sending reference to SJC without due procedure was in violation of constitution and law
–Lawyer seeks another reference against Justice Isa for ‘writing letters to president and sharing them with media’
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The legal fraternity will boycott courts across the country in protest against the misconduct reference being taken up by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Friday (today) against Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
The call for protest has been jointly given by the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Supreme Court Bar Association and has been endorsed by a majority of bar associations. However some groups of the Punjab Bar Council and the Lahore Bar Association have announced to boycott the strike call given by the apex lawyer bodies.
The call for strike comes amidst the filing of an application for a new reference against Justice Isa.
‘REFERENCE AGAINST JUSTICE ISA ILLEGAL’:
Addressing a press conference in the federal capital, SCBA President Amanullah Kanrani said the reference filed against Justice Isa cannot be called an official one in legal terms at present.
“The matter, right now, is between the SJC and the Attorney General,” he said. “The matter is in its initial stages.”
However, he added that till the SJC did not deem it fit enough to make a case for action, the reference was “just a mere piece of paper”.
“Lawyers across Pakistan will boycott the courts on Friday,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) distanced itself from the strike call.
In a meeting of the bar’s general house, the LBA office-bearers said that the bar would not become part of any strike over the issue. They also demanded that the reference should be decided on priority basis. The meeting also passed a resolution in support of the SJC proceedings.
Meanwhile, a general house meeting of the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA), convened to discuss five resolutions over the strike issue, ended indecisively due to verbal clashes between the lawyer groups.
The meeting was convened to discuss five resolutions, wherein three supported the SJC proceedings, and two opposed it with a demand to observe a strike on June 14.
Earlier in the day, it was reported that former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had written a letter to the SJC over the government’s reference against Justice Isa.
The government had filed references against two superior court judges in the SJC after complaints were received against three of them, including Justice Isa, of owning properties abroad.
‘VIOLATION OF LAW’:
In his letter, ex-CJP Chaudhry stressed that sending a reference to the SJC without following procedures was in violation of the Constitution and law.
The letter further read that it was not stated anywhere in the reference that Justice Isa had violated the Article of the Code of Conduct. It added that due to the reference, the judge and institution of the judiciary, as a whole, had been scandalised.
According to Chaudhry, the reference — being against constitutional provisions, untrue, without substances, and motivated — may not be entertained and be rejected without further proceedings.
Chaudhry had said the SJC should take action against the president and prime minister for violating their oath.
In a letter written to President Alvi last month, Justice Isa requested confirmation of whether the reference filed against him was under Article 209 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
‘JUSTICE ISA VIOLATED CODE’:
Meanwhile, the new complaint, submitted by Lahore-based lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt, stated that Justice Isa violated the code of conduct for members of the judiciary by “writing letters to the president of Pakistan and sharing it with the media”.
The application states that “… while writing letters to the president of Pakistan and sharing it with the media, Justice Isa appears to have committed gross misconduct and is liable to be removed upon the recommendation of the SJC in terms of Article-209 of the constitution of Pakistan.”
“Choosing a public forum for voicing his personal and subjective views and opinions, Justice Isa had denounced the judiciary of this country as a whole, he had targeted the chief executive (prime minister) of the country and had used offensive language to criticise the matter,” read the application which was also sent to President Arif Alvi and the Supreme Court registrar.
“By levelling all such allegations publically without substantiating the same, Justice Isa has violated various Articles of the Code of Conduct issued by the Honourable Supreme Judicial Council under the mandate of Article-209(8) of the constitution.”
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Asif Saeed Khosa had also weighed in on the matter, saying the government could not remove Justice Isa and that the SJC would deal with the matter fairly.
“Trust the judges. They will ensure justice [in the matter],” the chief justice said at the Cambridge University in the UK while responding to a query about Justice Isa.
PBC FORMS JAC:
On June 12, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) constituted a joint action committee of lawyers’ representatives to decide a future course of action with regard to the presidential reference against Justice Isa and Justice Agha.
“The move of filing the references by the government against both these judges smacks [of] mala fide of the government. The manner and haste shown in filing the references and their timing also raise eyebrows in the legal fraternity. Therefore, we disapprove this move,” read a resolution passed at PBC meeting.
The apex body of lawyers said it expected that “the SJC would not become a party to such designs of the government and would proceed with the matter purely in accordance with law and as per the Constitution.”
With a majority of 14 members, the PBC also suspended the membership of Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem. It resolved that the role played by the law minister in filing of references against Justice Isa and Justice Agha was “highly condemnable as he is instrumental in hatching this conspiracy against the independent judiciary.”