ISLAMABAD: Justice Qazi Faez Isa wants proceedings of review petitions against the Presidential reference broadcast live on the Pakistan Television Corporation and all other TV channels.
A 10-member bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, and Justice Aminud Din Khan.
During the course of proceedings, Justice Isa’s wife Sarina and their daughter were present in the court.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Faez informed the bench that Munir A Malik, the lawyer for the judge, could not arrive at court as he was unwell.
Upon that, Justice Bandial asked: “Would you like to argue the case yourself?”
Justice Faez responded in the affirmative, and stated that “we want to end the miseries, which he and his wife have been facing since long”.
He submitted that immediately, after the President sent a reference against him to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), its contents were broadcast on television and published in newspapers.
He stated that “unrelenting false propaganda campaign” was launched by the respondents (the federal government) against him alleging that he had not complied with the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, did not pay income tax, had unaccounted for wealth, bought properties abroad in the names of his wife and children, had illegally transferred money abroad, and committed the crime of money laundering.
Justice Isa further submitted that this was done before he was provided with a copy of the Presidential reference, let alone having been given an opportunity to respond to these “unfounded allegations”.
Justice Faez stated that not only for himself but as all the (judges) have assembled to take up the case; therefore, he wanted it concluded soon.
Furthermore, a judge of the bench will be retiring soon; therefore, he wanted this case to be heard on a day-to-day basis, he added.
The judge said that the case is extremely important not only for him as a person but the Supreme Court as an institution. “I want accountability, and transparency of judges, the government and the Supreme Judicial Council’s (SJC’s) Code of Conduct. The eyes of the whole nation are on this case,” said Justice Isa.
He requested that the bench, before the review petitions, to take up the application which he had already filed.
The judge argued that the purpose of the application is not his publicity.
Justice Bandial said that the other side, and the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) had not been issued notices so far.
Justice Isa said the AGP should have been present in the court.
“This is discourteous on the part of the attorney general,” he added.
Justice Bandial said: “We have to first issue notices to the respondents.”
He told Justice Isa that; “We are aware of your agony and pain, but the other side has to be issued notice, so that they also can hear you.”
Justice Isa urged the bench to fix the case for tomorrow.
At that point, Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked Additional Attorney General (AAG) Amir Rehman to come to the rostrum.
The AAG told the court that AGP had contracted Covid-19.
He further said the law minister who had pleaded the case on behalf of the federation was not present in the country.
“He will be coming back after 12 days,” he said.
Justice Bandial told him that he can take notice if the Court issues a short notice for tomorrow.
He said Justice Isa will consume some time.
Justice Isa said the application he had filed was “unique”, which was never filed earlier.
He requested the bench to direct the PTV to broadcast the proceedings live, and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) not to restrain the electronic media from live broadcast of proceedings.
Justice Isa said: “We were castigated in the public and a smear campaign has been launched against me and my family.”
He added, “Even if we are vindicated by the apex court, what about the perception [being built] in the public about us?”
Justice Bandial said: “We need to know the parameters and the instances where your innocence has been defamed as that material is not available before the bench”.
He said before the court takes up your application we have to see; if others come before us then we will have to treat all the applications.
Justice Isa said he wanted to argue on the application before the review petitions.
The AAG, Rehman, said he had not read the application.
Justice Bandial said: “this is new, and we have to check whether the present system or the State can handle your request of live screening”.
Justice Bandial after consulting with the bench members, Justice Maqbool Baqir and Justice Manzoor Malik, asked Justice Isa to place on record the certificate of his counsel Munir A Malik that he could not appear due to health reasons.
He said the office will receive the document and inform the bench tomorrow (today).
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021