Senior Supreme Court judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa issued a clarification on Tuesday following criticism over his attendance at a National Assembly gathering commemorating the Golden Jubilee of the Constitution of Pakistan.
The controversy surrounding Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s attendance at the National Assembly moot stems from the concern that judges should remain impartial and avoid any appearance of being aligned with a particular political party or group.
Legal and political commentators have argued that Justice Isa’s presence at the event and sitting amongst politicians compromises the perception of the judiciary’s independence and neutrality, raising concerns over potential conflicts of interest and the judiciary’s ability to make impartial decisions.
Justice Isa, who walked to the Parliament House from the Supreme Court building, was the only top court judge to attend the National Constitution Convention (NCC) on Monday, despite invitations being sent out to all the judges of the Supreme Court.
In his clarification on Tuesday, the senior judge said he had inquired about the nature of the event prior to accepting the invitation, and that assurances were given that there would be no political speeches and only the Constitution and its making would be discussed.
The program sent to him also confirmed these conditions, he said.
“Having cleared this point, first by my staff from the Deputy Director of the National Assembly, and then by me directly with the Speaker, I accepted the invitation as I wanted to show solidarity with the Constitution,” he stated in his clarification.
However, when political statements were made in a few speeches, he requested to speak to correct any misconceptions that may arise.
“I had been asked if I would like to speak and I had declined. However, when political statements were made (in a few of the speeches), I requested to speak to correct any misconceptions that may arise, and I did so,” he stated.
Responding to objections raised on where he was seated at the event, the senior judge said he would have preferred to sit in the hall on one side or in the gallery, but he was seated at the centre out of respect.
“Respect was shown to a member of the judiciary by seating me at the centre; I did not choose to sit there,” he said.
“The Constitution was unanimously enacted by the peoples’ directly elected representatives at all ends political spectrum, which testified to their sagacity. It affirmed the Founder’s motto of achieving success; Unity, Faith and Discipline. It established that even the most intractable problems can be solved with sincerity and motivation when the peoples’ interest is kept paramount. I may add that the elected representatives of the people are deserving of all respect. Without the politicians of the All India Muslim League we would not have gained independence,” he added.
He further stated that the elected representatives of the people are deserving of all respect, and the significance of the Constitution must be impressed upon all.
“The organizers of the Convention had invited all to commemorate a singularly important day in Pakistan’s history. The Golden Jubilee of the Constitution is a celebration of all citizens; it is not the exclusive domain of any particular political party or institution. The significance of the Constitution must be impressed upon all, and this should be done continuously,” he said.
“When Pakistan did not have a constitution enacted by the directly elected representatives of the people, the country broke apart. The lingering mistake was finally rectified 50 years ago and the peoples’ fundamental rights were recognised and enshrined in the Constitution. The salvation of all Pakistanis lies in adherence to the Constitution.
“Citizens are best served if seeds of discord are not planted. The making of the Constitution is one of the greatest moments in our history, which should be celebrated,” he concluded.
Bar Council moves SJC against Justice Isa
Meanwhile, the Gujranwala District Bar Council filed a complaint with the Supreme Judicial Council on Tuesday, requesting the removal of Justice Qazi Faez Isa from his post.
The complaint alleged that Justice Isa violated the Judges’ Code of Conduct by attending the parliamentary event and sitting with corrupt politicians. The complaint also asserts that Justice Isa’s conduct undermines the separation of powers between the judiciary and executive branches of the government.
A copy of the complaint has been sent to all members of the Supreme Judicial Council.
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On the other hand, opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has demanded the resignation of Justice Isa for showing partiality in Parliament.
Speaking to reporters at the Lahore High Court on Tuesday, PTI Vice President Fawad Chaudhary slammed the senior apex court judge for sitting with politicians during his visit to Parliament. He demanded Justice Esa’s resignation, claiming that he showed partiality and a mockery was made of the Supreme Court.