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The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Monday rejected the allegations leveled against it by Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa pertaining to a presidential reference filed against him. Justice Isa had accused the SJC of being partial with regard to the presidential reference against him. The Supreme Court had sought a response from the council on Justice Isa's allegations.

The SJC submitted its detailed response in the Supreme Court pertaining to the proceedings of a reference filed against Justice Isa. The council said that its stance with regard to the reference "is non-adversarial, fully impartial and entirely non-partisan." It said the proceedings before the SJC are "immune from judicial review" by virtue of provisions under Article 211 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

"To inquire into the conduct of a judge upon a reference filed by the President is an inviolable constitutional obligation of the Supreme Judicial Council, in view of provisions of Article 5 of the Constitution read with the oath of office sworn by the chairman and members of the council and the code of conduct prescribed for the judges of the superior judiciary," the SJC stated in its response.

It denied all the allegations leveled against the council, its chairman, members and its secretary. "Similarly, all assertions of illegality, irregularity and impropriety allegedly committed by the council... are categorically denied," the SJC said further. The Supreme Court will hear Justice Isa's petition against SJC proceedings on Tuesday.

The government had confirmed in June that two references had been filed in the Supreme Judicial Council against three judges for owning foreign assets. The offices of the Law and Justice Ministry and the Assets Recovery Unit, Prime Minister's Office, had issued a joint statement. The Assets Recovery Unit was established at the PM Office to "bring back the unlawful wealth back to Pakistan," it had said. The unit also receives complaints with regard to existence of properties of Pakistanis abroad and is "duty-bound to take appropriate action" once it receives a complaint. It received a complaint with respect to the foreign properties of three judges.

The recovery unit forwarded the complaint to the Law and Justice Ministry. The assets recovery unit verified it and received "certified copies from the land registries of the relevant assets, which were duly attested by the High Commission of Pakistan in the UK and notarized in London."

The information was shared with SJC and two references were filed, the statement said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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