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The Supreme Court was told on Monday that Justice Qazi Faez Isa is neither direct nor indirect beneficial owner of the London flats. A 10-member larger bench headed by Justice Umer Atta Bandial resumed the hearing of petitions challenging the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa. Munir A Malik, the counsel for Justice Isa, contended that there is no allegation of corruption and dishonesty against his client.

Both Justice Isa and President Arif Alvi keep constitutional posts, he said, expressing his hope that the two would take care of the decorum of their posts. However, the counsel put it on record that his client has reservations over the expenditures by some people enjoying high constitutional posts. "No one, including Justice Isa, is above the law," he said, adding that the way the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) had taken action would also be exposed.

Malik said that a character assassination campaign against Justice Isa, who is supposed to be the chief justice in the future, has been going on since May 28. "The lawyers' action committee and the assets recovery commission also talk about the reference. The President and the special assistant to the prime minister on information also talked about the presidential reference. [But] Justice Isa has now got a chance to defend himself in the court," he said.

The counsel recalled that the father of Justice Isa was a close aide to founder of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. "The law firm of Justice Isa was the top taxpayer. In 2009, Justice Isa's annual income was Rs 36 million when he became a judge, his annual salary was equivalent to his monthly income," he contended. Talking about the background of the presidential reference against Justice Isa, Malik said that both the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had filed applications against Justice Isa in the aftermath of the Faizabad sit-in case verdict, delivered on February 26.

He continued that both the parties - PTI and MQM-P - are allies in the centre and both had raised same type of questions in their respective applications. Prime Minister Imran Khan belongs to the PTI while Law Minister Farogh Naseem belongs to the MQM-P, he said. The federal government initiated the reference through the Law Ministry.

Justice Faisal Arab remarked it appeared that both the parties had exchanged drafts before filing the petitions and used the same computers. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah remarked that the same font was used in both the applications. He raised a question about the gap between the verdict on Faizabad sit-in and the reference against Justice Isa. Munir remarked that the court received an application by Waheed Dogar on April 10 while the Faizabad sit-in case was decided on February 26.

He added that a two-member bench, comprising Justice Isa and Justice Musheer Alam, had heard the Faizabad sit-in case. "Justice Isa also unveiled the involvement of intelligence agencies in the Faizabad sit-in," he said, pointing to reasons behind the reference. The court adjourned the hearing till Tuesday as Munir said he was not feeling well. Justice Isa has already furnished two rejoinders to rebut the allegations leveled by the federal government in its reply and those on behalf of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

At the outset of the hearing, a lawyer raised objection over Justice Bandial's presence, saying that the SJC had filed a reference against him which is still pending, so Justice Bandial should recuse himself from the hearing. The judge responded that the SJC will decide that reference. Meanwhile, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah reprimanded the lawyer over his behaviour and tone while Justice Maqbool Baqir asked him to leave the rostrum but the counsel refused to do so, challenging the bench to charge him with contempt of court. The bench then summoned president of the SC Bar Association who removed the lawyer from the rostrum.

Malik, the counsel for Justice Isa, argued in the court that his client had not accused any judge of discrimination or personal grudge. He said that Justice Isa has no objection over the full court or the judges who recused themselves. Justice Bandial reminded him that the bench had already rejected objections over the member judges.

"The core issue in the case is of pressuring judges of the superior judiciary," the counsel continued. Talking about the issues taken up in the references, the counsel said that Justice Isa's wife had purchased the first flat in 2004, while the petitioner became a judge after five years. His assets were verified when he was sworn in as a judge, said the lawyer.

The second and the third flats were purchased in 2013 by the offspring of Justice Isa, he said, adding that back in 2013 the judge was discharging his duties as the then chief justice of the Balochistan High Court. Earlier in his rejoinder to the government's reply to his petition, Justice Isa had told the apex court that the federal government had resorted to bald-faced lies and blatant inventions to defame and scandalize a superior court judge by accusing him of possessing "benami" properties abroad when the reference against him contains no such allegations.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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