SC refers Justice Isa’s petition regarding inclusion of judges in hearing to CJP

ISLAMABAD:The Supreme Court on Monday referred the matter of Justice Qazi Faez Isa regarding inclusion of three minority judges in the bench hearing review petitions to the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP).

Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who headed the the six-member larger bench, announced the 28-page judgment.

The bench comprising Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Mazahar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed had reserved the decision on the petitions filed by Justic Qazi Faez Isa, his wife Mrs Sarina Isa and different bar associations regarding inclusion of three judges including Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Yahya Afridi in the bench hearing review petitions against SC’s judgement announced on June 19, 2020.

The judgement had directed the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to conduct inquiry into the matter regarding non-disclosure of Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s family members’ assets abroad.

Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik disagreed with the today’s verdict. “I have read the order. I agree with the conclusion drawn in Para 31(ii)(a) (numerical strength of review Bench). However, I would attach my separate note for remaining findings/observations given in the order.”

The today’s order stated,” The review jurisdiction could be invoked only in relation to the court judgments, namely, unanimous and majority judgments and as a matter of the current law and practice of the court for the purposes of Order XXVI, Rule 8, the

minimum numerical strength of the bench that delivered the judgment or order under review was the numerical strength of the bench which heard and decided the original matter, regardless of whether the judgment under review was passed unanimously or by majority; and the review bench should comprise the author judge, if still on the court, as its member, and in case he was unavailable then any other judge who agreed with the author Judge should be included in the bench.”

It stated as a matter of law and settled practice it was for the CJP, as the master of the roster, to determine the composition of a bench and he might, for like reason, constitute a larger bench for hearing the review petition. Therefore, the office was directed to place the review petitions before the CJP for such orders as were deemed appropriate, the court order read.

The judgment further read that petitions sought reconstitution of the bench hearing several review petitions filed against the majority judgment in Justice Qazi Faez Isa Vs. President of Pakistan and connected petitions. The petitions were heard by a 10- member bench and were disposed of by means of a short order dated 19.06.2020, which was reported as Justice Qazi Faez Isa and 14 others Vs. The President of Pakistan and others (PLD 2020 SC 346) (“Short Order”). Subsequently, five judgments giving reasons were released. Seven members of the bench were party to the whole of the Short Order. They released a common judgment (authored by Justice Umar Ata Bandial) on 23.10.2020 (“majority judgment”).

One of them, Justice Faisal Arab, added his concurring judgment. The remaining three members, who did not join in the paras 3 to 11 of the Short Order, authored their separate minority judgments.