Judiciary in Pakistan have remained frequently under scanner due to various controversial decisions and scandals. Power and money are said to be used to bend the law. Despondency of our system is, that laws are either not implemented or implemented selectively.
The problem once again surfaced when a presidential reference under article 209 was filed against Supreme Court judge Qazi Faez Isa accusing him of concealing properties in UK allegedly held in the name of his spouse and children. On the basis of reference, SJC (supreme judicial council) started proceedings under chairmanship of former chief justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa. As per the reference, Justice Isa purchased three properties in London on lease but didn’t disclose the same in his financial statement. Justice Isa refuted the allegation and maintains that he cannot be made accountable for the assets of his children. Justice Isa has stated that allegations against him are baseless as his children are not minors nor have they been so, for quite a while and neither his spouse nor his children are his dependents. Moreover, he mentioned that Section 116 (1) (b) of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 is not a penal provision.”
However, as per opinion of legal experts, it was essential for the judge to disclose such assets as there was a close relationship between the judge and his spouse. Moreover, a senior lawyer on condition of anonymity said that justice Isa has intentionally politicize the case due to his legal position and to attract support from leftist in order to pressurize the supreme judicial council.
Resultantly, opposition and legal fraternity have opposed the reference. Asma Jahangir group and Hamid khan group has opposed government complaint against Isa. PBC (Pakistan Bar council) held protest against the reference and legal powers opposed the reference declaring it an attack on independent judges.
In the latest hearing, remarks of supreme judicial council bench judges have put questions over the court process. Moreover, judges remarks on how government has been able to acquire the details of justice Faez Isa property has also irk the public and legal fraternity.
The focus of supreme judicial council should have been on main accusation as to why the judge conceal his close family property rather than questioning the legality of ARU (Asset Recovery Unit). Cases such as Justice Faez Isa are a litmus test for the impartiality and fairness of the courts. The honorable supreme judicial council judges should refrain from any such remarks and should focus on deciding the case on merit. Decision and conduct of such cases are of great importance as it will shape public opinion about the fairness of Pakistan justice system. In reality, the supremacy of the constitution and its implementation on basis of unbiasedness is the only way for the justice system to achieve its apex.