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Govt reference suffers from ‘legal defects’ but Justice Isa’s funds ‘require explanation,’ SC says in detailed judgement

  • "The source of funds for this purchase and the mode by which these funds were transferred abroad require explanation," says the judgment.
Updated 23 Oct 2020

According to the Supreme Court's detailed judgment, the reference filed against Justice Faiz Isa suffered from "grave legal defects", finds no intent of malice in the proceedings, but adds that these deficiencies in the reference are the result of "careless and casual preparation".

However, the judgment adds that "these errors or defects do not erase Mrs. Isa's ownership of the London properties", and adds that while the ownership of these properties is not disputed, "the source of funds for this purchase and the mode by which these funds were transferred abroad require explanation" - indicating that there is a substance in the basis of the reference. The judgment also mentions that an "unexplained investment by the spouse of a Judge of the Superior Courts" only serves to compromise the integrity and credibility of the institution as a whole.

Becoming the first judge of the Supreme Court to make his belongings public, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and his family members declared their assets, media has reported.

The step has been taken by Justice Isa in the light of a request filed by the Women's Action Forum (WAF) where they invoked Article 19-A of the Constitution and the Right to Information laws to seek the information from, amongst others, the judges of the Supreme Court.

Income and tax

As per details, Justice Isa received a sum of Rs54.34 million on account of salaries during 2018 to 2020 and paid Rs6.7 million as tax.

The SC judge revealed that his income for the year 2018 was Rs15.11 million, Rs17.145 million for 2019 and Rs21.237 million for fiscal year 2020. He paid Rs2.2 million as tax in 2018, Rs1.8 million in 2019 and Rs2.3 million in 2020.

Details of properties

Justice Isa revealed that he owns a house on 800 square yards in Phase 2 of the Defence Housing Authority, Karachi. He also owns 800 square yards residential open plot in Phase 2 of the Defence Housing Authority, Karachi. He also owns a 200 yards commercial plot in Phase 5, Defence Housing Authority, Karachi, which he bought when he was practicing law, according to information.

Justice Isa transpired he inherited property from his father, the late Qazi Mohammad Isa, including half-share in a plot situated in Ziarat, Balochistan, next to the Quaid's Residency, a sizeable portion of which has been illegally encroached by the government.

He also showed an old house in his assets which measured one kanal in Block B, Phase I, Defence Housing Authority, Lahore, which is rented out and was bought from the partial utilisation of the sale proceeds of his share in two acres house and land situated at two Lytoon Road, Quetta City, which was sold.

Justice Isa has also revealed an account worth Rs41.4 million and foreign currency accounts worth Rs 4.1 million in Pak rupees. He also owned three vehicles -- Honda Accord, Honda Civic and Mini Jeep.

Perks and privileges

He declared that had an official residence in Islamabad, two servants, one cook, part-time gardener and cleaners, Honda Civic 2017 model and 2015 model with up to 600 liters of petrol and free medical treatment at approved hospitals.

The retired judge also gets 300 free local calls, 2,000 units of electricity, 25HM of gas, water and 300 liters of petrol per month and 20 per cent medical allowance.

Wife's assets

Justice Isa mentioned that his wife, Sarina Isa, is not his dependent and files her own income tax returns in the United Kingdom and in Pakistan.

Sarina declared her immovable properties namely 50-Coniston Court in London, 40-Oakdale Road, London and 90-Adelaide Road, London.

She has had savings worth Rs21,650,000 in the National Savings Center, DHA Karachi. Sarina Isa also has had an investment worth Rs25,454,310. Her foreign income remained Rs4,731,076 in tax year 2019.

She also has had Rs25,454,310 in her foreign bank account in England and paid over Rs2.4 million as tax in the past three years.

Her agriculture property includes 24.7 acre land at Deh Korar, Tapa Zangipur, Jacobabad. She also showed another piece of land of 148.21 acre in Jacobabad. The agriculture land was also shown in Dera Murad Jamali, commercial and industrial land in Shah Latif Town in Karachi and Clifton.

Regarding her daughter, Sarina Isa revealed that she paid over Rs2 million as tax in the past three years where she had income of around Rs16 million during this period. She said her son lives in London and he told her that he is a tax compliant with UK tax laws.

According to the Supreme Court's judgement, the reference filed against Justice Faiz Isa suffered from "grave legal defects", finds no intent of malice in the proceedings, but adds that these deficiencies in the reference are the result of "careless and casual preparation".

However, the judgement adds that "these errors or defects do not erase Mrs. Isa's ownership of the London properties", and adds that while the ownership of these properties is not disputed, "the source of funds for this purchase and the mode by which these funds were transferred abroad require explanation" - indicating that there is substance in the basis of the reference. The judgement also mentions that an "unexplained investment by the spouse of a Judge of the Superior Courts" only serves to compromise the integrity and credibility of the institution as a whole.