‘Govt satisfied with SC’s decision to quash presidential reference against Justice Isa’

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akbar on Friday said that the government was “satisfied” with the Supreme Court’s decision to quash the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, adding that they will not file an appeal against it.
Earlier today, the apex court threw out the presidential reference against Justice Isa, terming it “invalid” and also withdrew a show cause notice issued to the judge.
The short order asked that the Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) inland revenue commissioner send a notice to the judge’s wife and children within seven days, asking them to give explanations about the nature and source of funding for three properties in their names in the United Kingdom.
The commissioner will be time-bound to complete the investigation within 60 days and issue a report within 15 days of the investigation’s conclusion. The FBR was also directed to submit a report to the SC registrar within seven days of the commissioner’s order.
The registrar will then present the report to the chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) — the chief justice of Pakistan — who will decide when to present it in the council.
Addressing a press conference alongside Information Minister Shibli Faraz after the short order was released, Akbar said that there were three scenarios in which a judge can be questioned.
“First, a person or department in possession of any information can send it directly to the SJC. Second, the government, through the president, can send a reference to the SJC. Third, the SJC takes suo motu notice.”
Akbar said that it was only the SJC that had the domain to investigate matters relating to the superior judiciary. “You can inform them, but you can’t inquire […] on the basis of this a reference was sent [against Justice Isa]”.
Commenting on the SC’s decision, the PM’s aide said that the government was satisfied with the decision, adding that the purpose behind sending a presidential reference to the SJC was not because the government wished for a particular outcome.
“Since day one, we have believed that matters concerning judges should be examined by the SJC. The executive and the administration should not be involved in this,” he said, adding that the involvement is severed the minute the information is handed over.
The PM’s aide stated that for the past 13 months, government officials, himself, and the government’s counsel Farogh Naseem had held back from commenting on the case for a particular reason.
“These were legal proceedings and questions were asked. We [remained silent] not because we didn’t have any answers, but the purpose was to not engage in any controversy.”
He added that the purpose of holding today’s press conference was to set the record straight.
“When the short order was announced, there was an atmosphere created as if this was a win for someone and a loss for someone else.
“This is not the case. This is the process that happens in democratic societies in the constitutional scheme of things.”
He added that he had perused the SC’s order and found no mention of the word “mala fide”.
“I have read the judgement […] you will not find mala fide. So many people said things about the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU), I have not found any mention of it in the order so this also needed to be clarified.”
Akbar said that the during the proceedings, the government was offered to send the matter to the FBR, adding that the prime minister had also raised no objections to this.
“However, the petitioner didn’t agree to this. We just had one request that we wanted it to be time-bound,” he said.a

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