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Justice Isa Won’t Go Down Without A Fight

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Justice Qazi Faez Isa has criticised the introduction of laws through ordinances, saying that it is tantamount to taking away the parliament’s job. “The parliament should be shut down if the laws are to be introduced through ordinances,” he said, while hearing a case regarding the cutting of forests in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

This statement is one of many hard-hitting remarks by the judge made recently. He is known for being categorical in his criticism, no matter who is on the receiving end.

But having such critical stance against the government or state institutions is not without its problems. Justice Isa currently has a reference against him in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

In June, the SJC started hearing a reference filed by President Arif Alvi on the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan pertaining to judges owning foreign assets. Justice Isa was one of the judges accused of the same.

On Tuesday, a nine-member Supreme Court Bench adjourned the hearing of Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s petition against a presidential reference filed against him till October 8.

Justice Isa had filed a petition against the reference filed by President Arif Alvi pertaining to him owning assets in foreign countries.

The reference is said to be a part of a move to reign down on the judge who is known to not hold back from criticising the powers-that-be. Through his verdicts, he has always called for upholding of the rule of law. In his verdict pertaining to the case on the Faizabad Dharna, the Supreme Court had directed ISI, IB, MI and ISPR not to exceed their constitutional mandates.

Observers have argued that the reference was due to Justice Isa’s stance against state institutions, particularly that which he had taken in the Faizabad dharna verdict.

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Even after the reference was filed, the judge did not bow down to pressure. In an unprecedented move, Justice Isa wrote a letter to the president, in which he said that the reference could be an attempt to undermine the independence of judiciary and that he would not permit that to happen. He further resolved to preserve, protect and defend the constitution.

Last week, while speaking at a seminar at the Institute of Business Administration, Justice Isa said that respecting constitution was binding on those receiving salaries from taxpayers’ money.

He had also said that whenever institutions crossed legitimate boundaries, human rights were violated and as a result, the country destabilised.

He also stated that a country could not progress if someone was being supported by the authorities, and their support to one man could not stabilise a country.

In 2016, an inquiry commission led by Justice Faez Isa which was investigating the August 2016 Quetta attack on the lawyers community, issued a damning report which expressed regret over the fact that the then interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had met Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, the head of three banned organisations – Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, Millat-i-Islamia and Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat – to listen to his demands and even conceded to them.

The current reference against Justice Isa can be seen in the light of his verdicts and uncompromising statements. Observers say that the judge is being victimised for his powerful, no-nonsense verdicts. In his verdicts, the judge does not beat around the bush, and explicitly holds powerful government officials and even state institutions responsible.

Despite having a presidential reference filed against him, Justice Isa is still making strong statements and observers have argued that his recent statement against ordinances shows that he would not bow down to any sort of pressure and would continue to say it as it is no matter what means are used against him.

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Naya Daur