Three days after issuing a detailed verdict over presidential reference against a sitting judge of the Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa for alleged non-declaration of three offshore properties in the name of his wife and children the top court has decided to hear a set of review pleas against short order of June 19 in the matter from this Wednesday.
The fixture branch has pronounced thorough cause list that a larger bench will comprise Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Qazi Mohammad Amin shall adjudicate the matter.
Review petitions seeking to revisit paragraphs 3 to 11 were sought by Justice Isa himself, his wife Sarina Isa, the Sindh High Court Bar Association, the Supreme Court Bar Association, Quetta Bar Association President Mohammad Asif Reki, Punjab Bar Council Vice Chairman Shahnawaz Ismail, senior advocate Abid Hassan Minto and the Pakistan Bar Council.
In their review pleas, petitioners contended that the directions/observations or contents of paragraphs 3 to 11 in the June 19 short order were unnecessary, superfluous, contradictory, excessive and unlawful and thus liable to be deleted since it constituted ‘mistake’ and ‘error’ on the face of the record and were thus liable to be reviewed and deleted.
Worth mentioning that the seven judges through paragraphs 3 to 11 in the short order had quashed the reference while ordering Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman to furnish a report containing details of the proceedings conducted by the Inland Revenue commissioner after seeking explanation from the wife and children of Justice Isa about three properties in the UK to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) secretary. On the receipt of the report, the SJC may determine to initiate any action/proceedings for the purposes of Article 209 of the Constitution, in its suo motu jurisdiction, the judgement added.
According to the paragraphs 13 to 14 of the order, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Yahya Afridi had quashed the presidential reference against Justice Isa as a result of which the proceedings along with the show cause notice issued by the SJC against Justice Isa also stood abated. In her petition, Ms Isa had also sought a stay since, what she stated, the FBR Commissioner were proceeding with indecent haste against her. She argued that the terms “offshore evader” and “offshore assets” were introduced for the first time by the Finance Act, 2019, published on June 30, 2019.
The petitioner pleaded that she had declared the three offshore properties in her tax returns for the tax year 2018 and 2019, after the change of law requiring them to be so declared and has till date not received a single notice in respect of either tax year or in respect of her returns.
Pertinently mention that on June 19, the a 10-judge full court while announcing a short order in response to Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s and others petitions, challenging presidential reference, had quashed the reference to wash away the stigma of misconduct on Justice Isa over non-declaration of the properties in the name of his wife and children. Whereas in detailed judgement on October 23, the top court said that the show cause notice to Justice Isa by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), except for seeking information about Mrs Isa’s ownership of the undeclared London properties, and the remaining contents of the reference were having no foundation.
Pointing out gray areas of the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa through detailed verdict the top court declared the reference as ‘tainted with mala fide in law’, saying although the preparation and framing of the reference against the petitioner [Justice Isa] is not patently motivated with malice in fact, the scale and degree of the illegalities are such that the reference is deemed to be tainted with mala fide in law.
Authoring a 173-page detailed verdict in the matter the future Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata made the mentioned reason as ground to quash the presidential reference which has been endorsed by six more judges of the bench.
Worth mentioning that all the seven judges were same who while deciding the set of constitutional petitions against the filing of the presidential reference against Justice Isa had earlier delivered the majority verdict.