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Tax records of Justice Isa, wife were ‘illegally accessed’: SC

Apex court issues detailed verdict

SAMAA | - Posted: Oct 23, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 year ago
Posted: Oct 23, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 year ago

Photo: File

The Supreme Court said Friday that government functionaries “illegally accessed” the tax records of Justice Qazi Faez Isa and his wife Sarina Isa because authorisation for an investigation against the judge was not given by the president or prime minister.

A presidential reference was filed against Justice Isa, a Supreme Court judge, on May 28, 2019 in which he was accused of failing to disclose his family’s properties in his wealth statement. A 10-member full court heard the case and announced the verdict after conducting 41 hearings.

For a full timeline of the events, click here.

Justice Isa was accused of hiding his assets and those of his wife and adult children. He argued that they were not dependent on him, and therefore he did not have to disclose their asset details.

Most recently, the FBR ordered Sarina Isa to pay Rs35 million in taxes after she was unable to give “satisfactory” answers to their questions.

“No authorisation to investigate the affairs of the petitioner was given by the president and PM. Instead the authorisation of the law minister was obtained,” the Supreme Court said while explaining the flaws in the reference against Justice Isa. “As there was no valid authorization for the investigation, the respondents illegally accessed the tax records of the petitioner and Mrs Isa.”

The judgment stated that President Arif Alvi received admissible advice from the chief architects of the reference, including the attorney-general of Pakistan and the law minister, but he didn’t get “fair” and “objective” advice from a third party on the questions of law noted in the reference.

“The president failed to notice the various legal and procedural defects in the reference,” said the court. “These illegal acts of the respondents (the government functionaries) depict their utter disregard of the law,” read the judgment.

According to the judgment, the reference against 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.”

Tax proceedings against Sarina Isa and her children

According to the judgment, the court’s decision to direct the Federal Board of Revenue to commence tax proceedings against Sarina Isa and her children was based on two grounds: to establish that judges of the superior court are answerable to allegations casting aspersions not only on their personal integrity but also on the integrity of the institution; and to honour the petitioner’s plea that the allegation of the absence of source of funds and money laundering must be first put to Sarina Isa, who is an independent taxpayer.

The apex court said its decision to refer the case to the FBR was taken keeping in view the petitioner’s (Justice Isa) plea that his wife and children should be asked about their source of funds for the acquisition of their London properties.

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