ISLAMABAD    -   A full bench of Supreme Court has been constituted to hear the petitions challenging presidential reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The 10-member bench formed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa is headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and includes Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Muneeb Akhter, Justice Yahya Afridi, and Justice Qazi Ahmed Amin.

The new bench excludes the judges who are part of Supreme Judicial Council as well as the two judges on whom justice Qazi Faez Isa had raised objection.

Earlier, a seven-judge bench of the apex court had been dissolved after Munir A Malik, the counsel for Justice Qazi Faez Isa, contended that the judges on the bench who might possibly benefit from the dismissal of this petition should kindly recuse themselves from the proceedings, besides the three senior judges who were members of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

The objection was raised on the presence of these two judges because if the petitioner judge (Justice Isa) was impeached by the SJC, Justice Ahsan would become the chief justice in March 2024, instead of Oct 25, 2024. Similarly, in case of Justice Isa’s impeachment, Justice Masood, who otherwise would reach superannuation as a judge, would be elevated to the position of CJP for six months until March 10, 2024.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood had therefore recused themselves from hearing the case after this objection, and the bench was dissolved.

The new full bench will now hear the set of petitions challenging the presidential reference against Justice Isa on September 24.

This case of Justice Isa is being considered very important in the context of independence of judiciary after lawyers movement of 2007.

The lawyers organisations have declared presidential reference as based on malafide intent and have demanded of the government to withdraw this reference.

A reference had been instituted against Justice Isa in May this year, accusing the apex court judge of concealing his properties in the United Kingdom which he allegedly held in the name of his wife and children.

After news of the reference hit TV screens, the judge wrote multiple letters to President Arif Alvi, asking him to confirm whether the reports were true.

Subsequently, another reference was filed by a lawyer from Lahore over the judge’s act of writing to and seeking information from the president, accusing him of violating the code of conduct for judges.

The Supreme Judicial Council however quashed the second reference as it did not find the matter “serious or grave enough to constitute misconduct sufficient for his [Justice Isa’s] removal from the exalted office of a judge of the Supreme Court”.