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Pakistan Deaths
Pakistan Cases

A 10-member larger bench of Supreme Court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Tuesday turned down a request of the counsel for Justice Qazi Faez Esa seeking deferment of the hearing of his petition filed against a presidential reference for two weeks. The bench resumed hearing of the case challenging the presidential reference against Justice Esa. Justice Bandial, who turned down the request made by the counsel for Justice Esa, said the court could not defer the case for two weeks as one of the members of the bench is going abroad after two weeks.

He said that at the moment the court is only listening to the arguments surrounding maintainability of petitions. Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor Khan submitted his reply to the petition filed by Justice Esa. The court directed him to provide a copy of his reply to all the petitioners in the case.

Munir A Malik, the counsel for Justice Esa, argued that while the petition says that allegations against his client are based on mala fide intention, there is no mention of the point in the reply to the petition. Justice Bandial reminded Malik that the case has already been deferred because of his illness. He added that two judges have also detached themselves from the bench because of the petitioner's objections. "This was a painful process," he said.

Munir responded that the case is a trial of the entire judiciary. To this, Justice Bandial said: "The matter is also important for this institution [judiciary] and we have to examine the record produced in the court." Malik argued that the judge and his family members were spied upon, adding that a campaign was launched against his client.

Justice Bandial asked the counsel to elaborate his allegations with the help of the background of the case. Malik responded that his client had passed a verdict which was disliked. "Following the decision, a well deliberated campaign was launched against my client," he added. "Three properties were purchased overseas when the petitioner was chief justice of the Balochistan High Court," Justice Bandial noted, asking if that wasn't the case.

Malik responded, "The entire nation is looking to this bench, so there is no need of hurry."

"I want the 10-member bench to safeguard this institution," he added.

Justice Bandial said, "We are trying to hear the case as soon as possible."

"We are here to hear cases. Let us know if you want a prolonged deferment of the case," he said.

Justice Bandial further said that an honorable friend from his community has been accused so the bench wants to hear out the matter posthaste. He asked Munir to submit his arguments in response to the replies to the petition as soon as possible. Raza Rabbani, who has also petitioned the court, also asked to be heard. He said he has additionally highlighted the 2005 rules in his plea while some points in the petition were the same as in other applications.

Justice Bandial told Rabbani that the court will listen to him on his turn after the counsel for the main petitioner in the case completes his arguments. Senior counsel Rasheed A Rizvi representing the Sindh High Court Bar Association before the apex court raised an objection, saying that the court at this point is neglecting 15 other petitioners.

"This is a case, not a cake in which everyone ought to have a share," Bandial responded to Rizvi. He added that the bench has to get on with hearing the case. He said that Rizvi will be provided a copy of the reply submitted by the attorney general. Bilal Manto, another senior counsel and a petitioner in the case, said that he has already submitted an application seeking answers about the establishment of the Supreme Judicial Council. He said he has also sought record of the proceedings in the council. "I won't be able to present arguments without access to the record," he said.

"Your request will be considered at a later stage," Justice Bandial said. A reference had been instituted in May this year against Justice Esa, accusing the judge of concealing his properties in the United Kingdom allegedly held in the name of his wife and children. After news of the reference hit TV screens, the judge wrote multiple letters to President Arif Alvi, urging him to confirm whether the reports were true.

Subsequently, another reference was filed by a lawyer from Lahore over the judge's act of writing to and seeking information from the President, accusing him of violating the code of conduct for judges. The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), however, quashed the second reference as it did not find the matter "serious or grave enough to constitute misconduct sufficient for his [Justice Esa's] removal from the exalted office of a judge of the Supreme Court." Later, the hearing of the case was adjourning till October 14.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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