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'Shocking' that CJP order released to media before it was sent to me: Justice Isa

'Shocking' that CJP order released to media before it was sent to me: Justice Isa

Two days after Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed dismissed a case concerning allegations that the premier had distributed development funds among lawmakers, observing in the written order that Justice Qazi Faez Isa should not hear cases involving the premier, a letter from Justice Isa — who was part of the bench — to the apex court registrar expressed 'shock' that the judgement was released to the media before it was sent to him, it emerged on Saturday.

The copy of a letter by Justice Isa to the Supreme Court registrar, dated February 12, surfaced today, in which the judge says that as per "settled practice" a judgement, once written by the judge heading the bench, is sent to the next senior-most judge.

"[...] Honourable Mr Justice Ijazul Ahsan apparently received it, but I never did, and the world knows of it before I've seen it," the letter reads, which was also copied to the chief justice and all judges of the apex court. Justice Ahsan follows Justice Isa in seniority.

The five-page written order, authored by the CJP, said it "would not be proper" for Justice Isa, who is slated to become chief justice in 2023, to hear cases against the prime minister as the judge has, in personal capacity, filed a petition against PM Imran Khan.

In his letter to the registrar, Justice Isa raised four questions, along with the demand that the case file be sent to him so he could read it. The questions, quoted from the letter, are as follows:

  • Why the order/judgement was not sent to me?

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

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

  • Who ordered its release to the media?

CJP's remarks

A five-member bench had taken up a case relating to the distribution of Rs500m uplift funds among the legislators.

Prime Minister Imran had denied that the funds were distributed among the parliamentarians and said no money would be given to the legislators for carrying out any development scheme.

But Justice Isa, a member of the five-judge special bench, questioned the assurance by presenting a WhatsApp message he said he had received from an unknown source on Wednesday. The message contained supporting documents showing doling out of massive amounts recently for building roads by the Pak-PWD department in the constituency NA-65 that belongs to an important coalition partner.

The chief justice, however, disposed of the matter with an observation that there had been a contest between a judge and the prime minister.

In the judgement, released on Thursday, the top judge had noted that since Justice Isa had, in personal capacity, filed a petition against PM Imran, it "would not be proper" for the former to hear cases involving the PM in order "to uphold the principle of un-biasness and impartiality".

"It would be in the interest of justice that the honourable Judge [Justice Isa] should not hear matters involving the Prime Minister of Pakistan," the written order reads.

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