Justice Isa appalled by release of CJP order to media before sending him

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ISLAMABAD – Supreme Court’s Justice Qazi Faez Isa has questioned the release of a written order wherein Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed remarked that the former should not hear matters involving Prime Minister Imran Khan to the media before it was sent to him.

Justice Isa has sent a letter to the court registrar expressing shock in this regard and sought reply of a slew of questions.

The chief justice had given the observations while dismissing a case related to allegations that the premier had distributed development funds among lawmakers.

“I have learnt that an order/judgment (don’t know which one) was passed in the subject case on 11 February 2021, and released to the media. This is shocking since, as yet, I have not received the file with the order/judgment,” said the letter dated Feb 12.

He highlighted that it is settled practice that a judgment penned by a judge who heads the bed is sent to the next senior judge.

“…however, Honble Mr. Justice ljaz ul Ahsan apparently received it, but I never did, and the world knows of it before I’ve seen it,” he highlighted.

Justice Isa has sought replies of the following questions;

(1) Why the order/judgment was not sent to me?

(2) Why the settled practice of sending it to the next senior judge was not followed?

(3) Why was it released to the media before I read it (let alone had the opportunity to sign it in agreement / disagreement)?

(4) Who ordered its release to the media?

(5) And, provide me the case file to I may finally read the order/judgment,” said the letter.

Background

A five member bench headed by CJP Gulzar had taken up a case related to alleged distribution of development funds among parliamentarians by the premier.

The top judge considering that Justice Isa had already filed a petition against the premier, in his personal capacity, “it would not be proper for the Hon. Judge to hear the matter” to uphold the principle of un-biasness and impartiality.

“…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,” read the written order.

During the hearing of the case, when Justice Isa raised questions over the federal and provincial government’s stance that no any development funds have been issued to any lawmaker.

At one stage, Justice Isa submitted before the court copies of certain documents received by him from some anonymous source through a WhatsApp message

The “honourable judge also stated that he was unsure if the documents were genuine”, said the order.

The Attorney General for Pakistan, in response, submitted that “since the authenticity of the documents was questionable, the same may not be taken on record”.

“He further submitted that in any event the Hon. Judge would become a complainant in the matter and in that capacity it would not be appropriate for the Hon. Judge to hear the matter,” the order notes.

The apex court later accepted the replies submitted by the federal and provincial governments stating that no funds had been doled out.

The order says “it appears that the queries raised by this Court in the order dated 03.02.2021 have been responded/addressed by all the respective Governments and thus, we see no reason to further proceed with the matter.”