Justice Isa reference: SC says case can be thrown out if ‘dishonesty’ found

The Supreme Court on Tuesday remarked that the reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa has legal loopholes, adding that if such a mistake was found in a normal case than it can be disposed off and this case can be thrown out as well if dishonesty is found.

The remarks were passed by a ten-member larger bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial hearing the case filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

During today’s hearing, Justice Bandial remarked that they agreed on the accountability of judges, adding that the applicant has contended that the evidence was collected illegally and dishonestly.

“Reference has legal loopholes and generally such cases are disposed off on such a mistake, therefore if dishonesty is found in the reference then the case can be disposed off,” said the judge. He added that there were multiple problems in the reference.

“Ownership of properties in London has been admitted. The question in the case is of the purchase of the property and the petitioner has refused to share the details of the purchase, adding that the applicant wants the probe to be done legally,” said Justice Bandial.

Justice Bandial remarked that the FBR took action against Justice Isa under Article 116, 114, adding that the case can go to the judicial counsel if dishonesty is not found. He directed Naseem to present his arguments on dishonesty and evidence gathered.

Justice Faisal Arab remarked that the only the judicial council can take action against a judge and advised Naseem to think about launching the investigation in FBR.

To this, Naseem responded by saying that this can be a better way in the eyes of the court, adding that in the judicial council action against the judges is taken under the rules.

Following which, Justice Mansoor said that the action against the rules will impact someone else, adding that it will impact independent action.

“In this situation violation of rules is also not beneficial,” remarked the judge. While Justice Bandial remarked that they had full faith in the judicial council and what needed to be investigated was whether the property was bought legally or not.

To this, the government lawyer asked the court for time to take advice from the prime minister and president, but the bench asked him to present his arguments.

“Under the Services of Pakistan Act no one can refuse to not provide details regarding their spouse’s property,” said Naseem. To this, justice Mansoor asked the lawyer what will happen if the government official’s wife refuses to share the details.

Naseem responded to the question by saying that if the wife of a government servant makes such a claim then he may be sent to jail. He added that if details of assets are demanded from the public servant then the income tax cannot be used as an excuse.

The government lawyer told the court that the tax record was not sought from the spouse by the government, but it was the judicial council which had summoned it through the FBR.

He added that if he as a parliamentarian does not provide the asset details of his spouse then he can be disqualified.

To this, Justice Bandial interjected and told the lawyer that there was a shortage of time and asked him to read Section 216 of the income tax law.

Meanwhile, Justice Mansoor asked the counsel if a husband could seek the tax record of his wife. To this, Naseem responded saying that he thinks that a husband can seek the record. The judge after hearing this told the lawyer not to tell them what he thinks but what the law states, adding that if the wife refuses to share details then how can the husband get the tax record.

“What is the Asset Recovery Unit? How was the information obtained? You should seek direction from the president or prime minister on the matter related to FBR,” asked Justice Bandial during the hearing.

Meanwhile, Justice Faisal Arab intervened and told the lawyer that the dishonesty case has not been filed against the president and neither does he have the right to order an inquiry. He added that there was no evidence related to corruption in the reference, adding that if the president forms an opinion then it has to be constitutional.

Justice Arab also gave the example of the reference filed against former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in which the reference was formed in a single day and a council was also formed in a day.

To this, Naseem responded saying that the information they had obtained was that the properties were not bought, adding that the information has been given to the judicial council. He said that is was incorrect that the president did not have any record in front of him, clarifying that the showcause notice was issued after the review of the reference.

To this, Justice Mansoor said that it was not mandatory for the court to issue the showcause notice and once again reminded the lawyer that the question was that the details of assets were asked by the judge before his wife. He also asked him to show the law which states that a judge is responsible for the assets of his wife. 

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