The Supreme Court directed on Tuesday that a Full Court hear Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s petition challenging the presidential reference against him.
A written order was issued on Tuesday by a seven-member bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial in which it was decided that a full court will hear the petition. It forwarded the matter to Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa.
“In the circumstances, to further promote transparency in the proceedings and confidence of all persons interested in these proceedings, it is directed that the full court may be constituted in these connected matters. The file may be placed before the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan for passing appropriate orders,” read the order.
The case was heard by Justice Bandial, Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel.
Justice Isa’s lawyer, Munir A Malik, filed a petition seeking the recusal of Justice Ahsan and Justice Tariq on Tuesday. Though the bench ruled that their submissions “did not carry weight” and that the judges did not have to recuse themselves, they did so voluntarily.
Malik had requested that the judges on the bench who “may possibly benefit from the dismissal of this petition” should recuse themselves from the proceedings. “He emphasized that the “possibility” of being swayed by any consideration of personal advantage is a ground for recusal under Article 4 of the Code of Conduct of Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts of Pakistan,” he had said.
But the bench found that this argument wasn’t enough to order the judges’ recusal.
On August 26, the judge had challenged in the top court the Supreme Judicial Council’s observations against him in the verdict dismissing the reference against the judge for writing letters to President Arif Alvi.
The council had dismissed the reference on August 19. The SJC wrote in its order that the “private letters” written to the president by Justice Isa “ha[d] not been found by us to be serious or grave enough to constitute misconduct sufficient for his removal from the exalted office of a Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan”.
The judge, however, wants the remarks against him to be removed from the verdict.
He remarked, in the petition, the presidential reference against him for owning foreign properties can no longer be heard by the chairperson of the Supreme Judicial Council, Justice Khosa, and its other members because they “are no longer competent to hear it”. The members have shown “bias” against him as evident by their remarks in the reference dismissal verdict.