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The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Thursday summoned a meeting on June 14 and the notice was issued to Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan, who will act as the prosecutor general. The federal government has allegedly sent references against Supreme Court judge Justice Faez Isa and Sindh High Court judge KK Agha. President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi sent the references to SJC against the judges under Article 209 of Constitution.

Three days have passed but still its contents have not made been known. It is alleged that the charges against both the judges relate to non-declaration of assets. Justice Isa has written a letter to President Alvi urging him to clarify the mystery surrounding the references against the judges, particularly against him. "Selective leaks amount to character assassination, jeopardizes my right to due process and fair trial and undermines the institution of the judiciary," says Justice Isa's letter.

The SJC, under Article 209 comprises Chief Justice of Pakistan, two next most senior judges of Supreme Court and the two most senior Chief Justices of High Courts. Section 5 of Article 209 says that if on information from any source, the Council or the President is of the opinion that a judge of Supreme Court or of a High Court may have been guilty of misconduct, the President shall direct the Council to, or the Council may, on its own motion, inquire into the matter.

If after inquiring into the matter, the Council reports to the President that it is of the opinion, while clause of the same Article says that he should be removed from office, the President may remove the Judge from office.

Pakistan Bar Council has summoned the General Body of the PBC after Eid on June 12 to deliberate upon the federal government's references against the Justice Isa and Justice KK Agha.

Talking to Business Recorder on telephone, PBC vice-chief Syed Amjad Shah said that Justice Isa is an upright judge and the lawyer community stands behind him like a rock. He said that under Article 209 of Constitution, the federal government has the right to send reference against the judges of superior judiciary, but sending reference against Justice Isa, has sent out wrong signals.

"For the last three months since Faizabad dharna judgment, we were anticipating it. Justice Isa has been made the target as he speaks against the government and the 'powerful institutions'."

Reference against Justice Isa is a matter of great concern for the lawyer community, he said, adding that on June 8 they had summoned a meeting of all bar councils and on June 12, the PBC general body will prepare its strategy.

The legal observers believe that the current campaign against Justice Isa was launched after he authored a strongly-worded judgement on February 6 this year in a case relating to November 2017 Faizabad sit-in by Tehreek-I-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) activists, directing the defence ministry and chiefs of the army, navy and air force to penalise the personnel under their command found to have violated their oath.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) also condemned the government move to file reference against Justice Isa. SCBA President Amanullah Kanrani said: "The reference against Justice Isa is based on ill-intention, as he comes from a very such background where there is no room to question his credibility," he declared.

Amanullah said that leaking the news about reference would damage the credibility and raise doubts, adding everyone should have an opportunity to defend himself. He said they would defend the judiciary against the government move.

Former SCBA chief Ali Ahmed Kurd said that Justice Qazi has always struggled for the supremacy of the constitution and the law. "There is some who is scared of Justice Qazi as he had also given verdict against former Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan," he added. He warned that the lawyers would take to the streets from Karachi to Peshawar.

Former Attorney General for Pakistan Munir A Malik termed the reference mala fide. Leaking news related to references is to scandalize the uprights judge and tarnish his reputation, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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