ISLAMABAD   -   In a letter, Supreme Court’s Judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa Wednesday sought clarification from President of Pakistan Arif Alvi over reports regarding filing of presidential reference in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and asked him to provide the copy of reference, saying the selective leaks amount to character assassination.

“Selective leaks amount to character assassination, jeopardise my right to due process and fair trial and undermines the institution of judiciary,” stated Justice Isa in his letter addressed to the President of Pakistan.  Justice Isa in his one-page letter to the president stated: “I have come to learn that government sources are stating that a reference has been filed against me under Article 209 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

Justice Isa added: “I will be obliged if you could let me know whether this is correct, and if it is, to kindly provide me with a copy thereof.”

“I am confident that you will agree that if a reference has been filed and I have been called upon to submit a reply, only then to the permission of the Supreme Judicial Council, the government may disclose the reference and my response thereto.”

The unprecedented move by Justice Isa came after reports regarding government reference against superior court judges including Justice Isa.

Earlier in the day, Additional Attorney General Zahid Fakharuddin Ibrahim tendered his resignation in sharply worded letter that termed purported government reference against judges of superior courts as an attempt to tarnish reputation of the justices.

Advocate Ibrahim said the action by the government reeked of ulterior motives and belied the claims of accountability.Advocate Ibrahim was appointed as Additional Attorney General for Pakistan in November 2018. He has served as the law officer in the province of Sindh.

His resignation letter addressed to President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi stated that filing of purported references is not about the accountability of but it is a reckless attempt to tarnish the reputation of independent individuals and browbeat the judiciary of Pakistan.

“Unless resisted, it will cause irreparable damage to the institution which is the protector of our fundamental rights and the bedrock of our fledgling democracy,” the resignation stated. 

It said that one of the purported references is against a senior Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan who is widely recognised for his unimpeachable integrity and against whom the government has already revealed its mind in the much publicised review petitions in Faizabad Dharna Case.

“In view of the above, I (Ibrahim) cannot in good conscience continue in office and therefore hereby tender my resignation as the Additional  Attorney General for Pakistan with immediate effect,” the resignation letter concluded.

The resignation is being considered as a first-ever protest in solidarity with judges of superior courts and against the government move of filing references.

The officials in the Ministry of Law and Justice on the condition of anonymity told The Nation that one of the references filed in Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) is against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

Advocate Ibrahim in his letter said that he has confirmed the development by persons at the highest levels of the government. However, there is no official confirmation from SJC on the matter.

The purported references filed by President Dr Arif Alvi asked the SJC to inquire under Article 209 of the Constitution into the foreign properties either in judges’ names or in their spouses’ names who allegedly have not declared in their wealth statements.

Sources said that the other two judges named in the reference are each from Sindh High Court and Lahore High Court.

Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the apex body of lawyers of the country, also considering to call its general house meeting to convey its strong message to the government to not to go in conflict with judiciary.

PBC’s Vice Chairman Syed Amjad Shah while talking to The Nation said that the legal fraternity of the country shall stand with Justice Isa and judiciary adding they are considering to hold a general house meeting on June 12.

He further said that Justice Isa is the man of integrity and he works with an independent mind adding that they are not against references but Justice Isa is being victimised.

Legal fraternity is of the opinion that Justice Isa is being victimised because he had delivered a bold judgment on famous Faizabad Sit-in Case and subsequently a bold review petition was also filed, he added.

He said that many of judges are sitting in the benches in Lahore High Court (LHC) and Supreme Court against whom the proceedings should be conducted under Article 209.

He lamented that those incompetent and allegedly corrupt have been left and a judge is being targeted which is not appropriate.

“We are not against the powers of president regarding filing of references but targeting a judge because of his independence is not fair,” said PBC’s vice-chairman.

He added that the legal fraternity will support Justice Isa in case of any attempt to victimise him.