The Supreme Court was informed on Thursday that Justice Qazi Faez Isa is "ostensible" owner of three foreign properties as his family members purchased the assets at a time when they had no independent sources of income. In his reply Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan on a set of petitions challenging the presidential references against Justice Isa, said: "The petitioner's spouse and children own expensive properties in the UK which were purchased in the years 2004 and 2013 at a time when they had no independent source of income of their own."
"The inescapable conclusion which follows is that the properties are benami and that the petitioner is the ostensible owner," it continues. The response states that the presidential reference filed in the Supreme Judicial Council only sought an inquiry to ascertain whether Justice Isa's conduct "in owning the properties, though ostensibly, is free from financial impropriety."
"The simple and straightforward answer to this query would have been to disclose the source of funds employed to purchase the properties, the mode and manner of acquisition of foreign exchange and its transfer to the UK," it continues.
The government's response states that instead of providing answers, Justice Isa "took a very evasive stand and started vilifying and castigating the complainant." "The complainant may not be a symbol of propriety but as a judge, the petitioner [Justice Isa] should have displayed such a character," added the response.
The government maintained that the information provided by the complainant was admitted by the petitioner as well "therefore, instead of assassinating the character of the complainant," Justice Isa should come forward with the information. Furthermore, the government stressed that the mere filing of a reference by President Arif Alvi cannot be visualized as a threat to the independence of the judiciary. "There is no shred of evidence to establish that any of the constitutional functionaries has acted with slightest of mala fide."
According to the government, the President deliberately omitted the names of Justice Isa's spouse and children to "keep them out of the controversy." Citing the Article 248 of the Constitution, the government argued that the president and prime minister of the country have immunity and are not answerable to any court, including the SC, for acts done in exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices.
The reply also stressed that Article 48(4) of the Constitution states that advice tendered to the president by the premier shall not be inquired into by any court. Finally, the government has denied "all allegations, insinuations, aspirations" put forth by Justice Isa and the country's bar associations and councils alleging the presidential references were filed out of mala fide intent and for ulterior motives.
"As a judge we all expect a very high standard of rectitude, probity and honesty of behavior from the learned petitioner judge. However, by not providing the simple answers regarding funds employed for the purchase of three properties in the UK, the petitioner by his conduct has disentitled himself to claim any equitable relief from this court," it added.
In May this year, a presidential reference was filed in the Supreme Judicial Council against Justice Isa alleging non-disclosure of assets in his wealth statement. In his reply, the top judge maintained that he was neither answerable for the assets of his wife as well as adult offspring nor was he under obligation to disclose any information concerning them.