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SC directs govt to collect information about assets owned by Justice Isa’s spouse from FBR

SC directs govt to collect information about assets owned by Justice Isa’s spouse from FBR

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) directed the federal government to collect information from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) regarding foreign properties allegedly owned by the spouse of Justice Qazi Faez Isa and submit a report before the court on Monday.

According to media, a ten-member full court bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Wednesday had resumed hearing identical petitions challenging the presidential reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa for allegedly not disclosing foreign properties owned by his spouse on his wealth returns.

Other members of the bench include Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Justice Faisal Arab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Qazi Amin Ahmed.

The case took a new turn during the hearing when Salman Akram Raja, counsel for the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), while continuing his arguments, quoted media reports to point out that Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s wife had visited the FBR office in Karachi to inquire about her returns.

“[She] visited the FBR office seeking information regarding [the] transfer of her tax record from Karachi to Islamabad besides inquiring as to why she was not issued a notice for her foreign assets,” Raja recounted in the courtroom. “The FBR authorities did not cooperate with the lady,” he informed the court.

At this, Justice Umar Ata Bandial questioned Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman about the matter, who told the court that the entire reference is based on foreign properties.

Munir A Malik, counsel for Justice Qazi Faez Isa, submitted that he was not representing the spouse of the petitioner, but only the petitioner (Justice Faez Isa). He further submitted that Justice Faez Isa is not answerable for his spouse.

Malik informed the court that he came to know that Justice Isa’s wife had visited the FBR office seeking guidance for shifting her tax record from Karachi to Islamabad as the last date for filing tax returns is January 31. Malik further stated that Justice Isa’s spouse had filed her tax returns last year in Karachi.

He said the FBR authorities told Justice Faez Isa’s spouse that they will inform her about the record after seeking instructions from higher authorities.

The court asked the AAG that if the lady was willing to disclose information about her foreign properties, the same should be collected and submitted before it.

Earlier, Bilal Hassan Manto, counsel for another petitioner, while commencing his arguments, submitted that the 18th Constitutional Amendment had taken away the power of taking action against judges but retained it with the president.

“This happened because there has to be something which is to be functioned by the president,” Manto contended.

Elaborating his point, Manto submitted that the president is expected to be an independent and neutral buffer between the executive and the judiciary.

“While political culture may play a part, but the (president) has to be an independent person to form an opinion,” Manto submitted.