SJC hears references against Justice Isa, SHC judge Agha

By Shakeel Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) heard references filed against Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Sindh High Court (SHC) Judge KK Agha today.

The government had filed references against two superior court judges, Justice Isa and Judge Agha in the SJC after complaints were received against judges for owning properties abroad but did not mention them in their wealth statements.

President Arif Alvi had forwarded the references to the SJC.

The SJC session was chaired by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and attended by Supreme Court judges Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh. The session was also attended by Chief Justice Sindh High Court Ali Ahmed Sheikh and Chief Justice Peshawar High Court Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth.

The Attorney General of Pakistan appeared before the SJC.  He did not provide any information to journalists on the proceedings of the session. 

The SJC is the only constitutional authority mandated by Article 209 of the Constitution of Pakistan to conduct inquiries into allegations of incapacity or misconduct against a judge of the Supreme Court or of a high court.

It comprises chief justice of Pakistan as chairman, two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and two senior most judges of the high courts as members.

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Amanullah Kanrani while speaking to reporters in Islamabad on Thursday said, lawyers across the country will boycott courts today (Friday).

Kanrani said the reference filed against Justice Isa cannot be called an official one in legal terms at present.

“The matter, right now, is between the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and the Attorney General,” he said. “The matter is in its initial stages.”

However, he added that till the SJC did not deem it fit enough to make a case for action, the reference was “just a mere piece of paper”.

Lawyers divided on protest

Lawyers across the country are boycotting courts against the references filed against Justice Isa and SHC judge. 

Lawyers in Dir Bala, Sukkur and Gujrat have boycotted courts and are protesting and have been sporting black armbands to stand against the references.

In Islamabad, lawyers have partially boycotted courts. Only those lawyers with urgent cases have appeared in the court for hearings. 

The Islamabad High Court and District Bar Council are on a strike on the call of the Pakistan Bar Council.

In Chakwal, lawyers have been divided over the call for strike by the Pakistan Bar Council.

In Balochistan, lawyers have been protesting in the premises of the Balochistan High Court. Lawyers in Khuzdar have also boycotted courts and are protesting on the call given by the Supreme Court Bar Association.

In Sindh, high court circuit bench and others are protesting on the call of the Sindh Bar Council. Lawyers in Hyderabad, Larkana and Jacobabad are on strike.

In Karachi, lawyers have been divided into two groups over the call for a strike.

However, in Punjab, lawyers have refused to partake in the strike.

Courts are in session in Lahore and Rajanpur per schedule while lawyers in Multan and Muzaffargarh are on a partial strike. 

Ex-CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry writes letter to SJC

On Thursday, it was reported that former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry wrote a letter to the SJC over the government’s reference against Justice Isa.

Former CJP Chaudhry, in his letter, stressed that sending a reference to the SJC without following procedures was in violation of the Constitution and law.

The letter further read that it was not stated anywhere in the reference that Justice Isa had violated the Article of the Code of Conduct. It added that due to the reference, the judge and institution of the judiciary, as a whole, had been scandalised.

According to Chaudhry, the reference — being against constitutional provisions, untrue, without substances, and motivated — may not be entertained and be rejected without further proceedings.

Chaudhry had said the SJC should take action against the president and prime minister for violating their oath.

In a letter written to President Alvi last month, Justice Isa requested confirmation of whether the reference filed against him was under Article 209 of the Constitution of Pakistan.