SJC to resume hearing of cases against Justice Esa, Justice K. K. Agha on July 2

Justice Qazi Faez Esa

SLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) is set to resume proceedings on the presidential references against Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court and Justice K.K. Agha of the Sindh High Court on July 2.

Sources privy to the development told Dawn that during the proceedings, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan was likely to argue on the maintainability of the references, besides informing the SJC about the government’s stance on the references.

The SJC took up the references on June 14 while lawyers across the country staged protests and boycotted courts proceedings on the strike call of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the apex regulatory body of lawyers. The Supreme Court Bar Association also observed a strike on the date.

However, a fraction of lawyers defied the strike call and distanced itself from the PBC’s protest.

Though the SJC did not issue any handout after the proceedings, the Supreme Court’s public relations office on June 15 issued a statement, confirming that the references against Justice Isa and Justice Agha were pending before the council and were in process.

It explained that 426 complaints or references had been received by the SJC and all of them had been processed. After going through different stages of the process, 398 cases have been disposed of, and only 28, including the two presidential references, are pending.

The announcement said that all cases were in process and would be disposed of in the due course of time.

Instead of issuing a show-cause notice to Justice Isa and Justice Agha, the SJC sent copies of the references to their residences in accordance with section 8(3) of the inquiry rules. This will require the accused judge to present himself before the council, which will provide him the information and the material received against him.

Both judges reportedly have been asked to volunteer, if they choose so, to clarify their position over the allegations levelled in the complaints against them.

The government in its reference has alleged that the sources to acquire foreign properties by Justice Faez Isa’s wife are not accounted for. Therefore, the SJC should probe into the matter to assess whether these properties have been acquired through money laundering. The government has also alleged that the judge has violated Section 116 (1) (b) and Section 116 (2) of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 by concealing foreign properties of his wife.

It is alleged in the reference against Justice Agha that although he declared his foreign properties in 2018, he did not disclose their value. In its complaint, the government has attached a Federal Board of Revenue report which says that Justice Agha jointly purchased a property — ‘No 17 Calvert Close Belvedere Kent, UK — on Nov 24, 2005 but did not declare it in his wealth statement until the tax year 2018, when the property was declared at zero value.

The report also alleges that the judge did not file his tax declarations between 2005 and 2014. He filed his declarations for tax years 2015, 2016 and 2017, but did not disclose his property in Kent.

The FBR report states that Justice Agha also owns an offshore property — No 40, Kerwin Close, Dartford, UK — which was declared in his wealth statement for tax year 2018 at zero value. The judge declared an offshore bank account at Lloyds Bank UK in his wealth statement filed for 2018 for the first time, but with zero balance.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2019