The Supreme Court (SC) disposed of the development funds case on Thursday following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s denial of news reports citing him as announcing the allocation of Rs500 million to all lawmakers ahead of the Senate polls.
The petition was being heard by a five-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed. The decision came as the Ministry of Finance submitted a signed undertaking of the premier, denying such an action being taken by him.
"To uphold the principle of un-biasness and impartiality, it would be in the interest of justice that the Hon. Judge [Faez Isa] should not hear matters involving the Prime Minister of Pakistan," reads an order authored by the CJP. 2/2
— Farah Adeed (@Farah_adeed) February 12, 2021
“The finance division has not allocated or handed over monies to any legislature or any person nor has it intended to do so. There is no such provision in the public finance management system,” the undertaking read. “The finance division has not received any direction or request from any quarter to allocate these funds or any other funds to any specific project or any project identified by a legislature or any other person,” it further added.
Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed Khan also informed the SC that the premier denied the news of giving development funds to the members of the assembly. Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed found PM Imran’s response satisfactory.
However, Justice Qazi Faez Isa observed that hefty funds had been released to the government coalition in NA-65. “Can funds be given to certain constituencies for road construction?” he questioned. “We are not the enemy, we are the protectors of the people’s money and the constitution,” he stated.
While talking about measures to curb corruption in the country Justice Isa said: “Is it not the responsibility of the Election Commission to take action against corrupt practices?” He added that it is unknown at this time if there is any constitutional cover to the PM on his political actions. However, in the past courts have been known to summon prime ministers, Justice Isa observed.
— Dunya News (@DunyaNews) February 11, 2021
Interestingly, the order issued by the court has suggested Faez Isa J. not to hear the cases concerning the premier: “The Hon. Chief Justice of Pakistan, therefore, observed that in these circumstances it would not be proper for the Hon. Judge to hear the matter considering that he had already filed a petition against the Prime Minister of Pakistan, in his personal capacity. Therefore, to uphold the principle of un-biasness and impartiality, it would be in the interest of justice that the Hon. Judge should not hear matters involving the Prime Minister of Pakistan,” the order states.
Recently, a two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Maqbool Baqir heard a case pertaining to local bodies elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Justice Faez Isa said that a referendum could be held with the journalists present in the courtroom to determine the state of freedom of media in Pakistan. The judge asked the journalists who think that media is free in Pakistan should raise their hands. No reporter in the court raised a hand on this. Justice Faez Isa then asked that those who think the media is not free to raise their hands to which all the journalists present in the courtroom raised their hands.
Remove PM Khan from the office, demands Justice Faez Isa’s wife
Sarina Isa, the wife of Justice Qazi Faez Isa, has filed a petition to get Prime Minister Imran Khan removed from the office over the alleged non-disclosure of assets and tax cheat.
She submitted a long list of charges — (i) he is a tax cheat, (ii) did not disclose his three children’s assets when they were minors in his returns, (iii) illegally accessed and obtained the petitioner’s legally protected records maintained by the FBR, NADRA, FIA and SBP and more — to justify her plea for the disqualification of the prime minister.
Justice Isa’s wife has raised questions over the money trail provided by the prime minister regarding purchase of land at Bani Gala, noting he “is judged by a different yardstick by the apex court”. She stated that the June 19 judgment “is contrary to the apex court’s judgment in Imran Khan’s disqualification case.
“Comparing Mr Imran Khan’s documents with the petitioner’s regarding their respective properties, there is a great difference, a chalk and cheese difference.
“The petitioner produced verifiable documents, including her own bank documents. Mr Imran Khan spun a tale: his divorced wife (Ms Jemima Goldsmith) sent him money to buy properties in Pakistan but did not send it into his bank account but through a convenient intermediary (Mr Rashid Khan),” she stated in her submission.
It is important to note that Justice Faez Isa family is facing a case of tax evasion. The judge himself is accused of an alleged misconduct by the incumbent government.
A 10-judge full court on June 19, 2020 quashed the presidential reference that sought Justice Isa’s removal in view of his failure to mention his family members’ London properties in his wealth statement.
The top court declared in October that the presidential reference filed against Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa is “tainted with mala fide in law”, while making strong comments against the president, the federal minister for law and the former attorney general for Pakistan (AGP).
“Although the preparation and framing of the reference against the petitioner [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.”
“For this reason, the reference is hereby quashed,” said the 173-page detailed judgment authored by future Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and endorsed by six more judges.