Pakis­tan Bar Council to observe black day on 2nd July to protest references against judges

ISLAMABAD: The Pakis­tan Bar Council (PBC) will observe July 2 as a black day during the hearing by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) of two references against Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court and Justice K.K. Agha of the Sindh High Court (SHC).

The PBC urged lawyers’ fraternity to ensure their presence at the building of the Supreme Court during the hearing of the two references.

In a statement, PBC president Amanullah Kanrani on Sunday asked representatives of different bar councils and bar associations to observe black day on July 2 when the five-member SJC would sit to hear the references. He said that lawyers would wear black armbands and carry black flags with them during the hearing of the references.

The statement said that the PBC would decide its future line of action in the light of the final decision of the SJC.

He said the council had not given any call for closure of courts keeping in view of holidays in the Supreme Court, Sindh High Court and Balochistan High Court.

Mr Kanrani urged lawyers to stay united and not to let differences crop up in their ranks. He said the council had reservations on news that some lawyers and heads of some departments were trying to get some lucrative posts. “We believe that appointments in courts should be made purely on the basis of merit as the process of transparency can be affected if relatives of judges and office-bearers of lawyers’ organisations are appointed on top positions,” he said.

In its reference, the government has alleged that the sources to acquire foreign properties by Justice Faez Isa’s wife and children were not accounted for and, therefore, the SJC should investigate the matter to assess whether these properties were acquired through the laundered money.

The government has also alleged that Justice Isa has violated Section 116 (1) (b) and Section 116 (2) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001, by concealing foreign properties of his wife and children.

In the reference against Justice Agha, it has been alleged that although Justice Agha had declared his foreign properties in 2018, he did not disclose their value.

However, it is believed that Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice K.K. Agha will be provided an opportunity to explain their positions on allegations of possessing properties in the United Kingdom, but not disclosing them before authorities under the relevant laws.

The judges have been asked to offer their defence before the council in line with Section 8(3) of the Supreme Judicial Council Procedure of Enquiry, 2005.

In case the judges opt not to volunteer their defence before the council, the preliminary session of the SJC will be considered concluded and the council will make an assessment to issue show-cause notices to the judges and proceed further.

However, it is not clear whether the two judges will furnish their written reply or appear in person before the council or may engage a counsel of their choice to represent them before the council.

The first hearing of the references by the SJC was held on June 14 amid protest demonstrations by lawyers across the country as well as inside the Supreme Court building.

Though a faction of lawyers had defied the strike call and distanced itself from the PBC’s protest, the demonstrations by a majority of lawyers’ organisations were considered successful.

In case the council decides to move forward and issue formal show-cause notices to the judges, the lawyers will continue their protest demonstrations until the references are withdrawn by the government.

On June 10, the PBC had formed special committees in the four provinces and in Islamabad to identify “inefficient and corrupt judges” and to “prepare” references against them.

PBC vice chairman Amjad Shah told media that the committees would submit their reports within a month and then the council would “prepare and submit references” against the judges to the president and the SJC for further action.

The special committees would also collect evidence that would form the basis for the references, the PBC vice chairman said, adding that the committee members would also review judgments of the judges.

Mr Shah said that names of the judges would not be disclosed till the filing of the references against them and no-one would be allowed to engage in their character assassination.

He said that names of the committee members would also be kept secret.