Islamabad - Dismissing the criticism on government for filing references against judges of superior courts in the SJC, the federal cabinet on Monday endorsed the resolve of the prime minister for holding across the board accountability.

“There are no holy cows in any department” and the government will continue to pursue “uniform justice for all”, Special Assistant of Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said while briefing media on the cabinet meeting.

Dr Awan said that the cabinet has endorsed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resolve for across the board accountability with the approach that no one is above the law. The PTI government came to power to uphold justice and rule of law in the country, she said.

She said Law Minister Farogh Nasim briefed the cabinet in detail on facts leading to references forwarded to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) about the judges. After learning of the facts, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed the resolve that “no one is above the law”, she said.

The Special Assistant said the cabinet endorsed forwarding of the reference to the SJC by the Law Ministry after stringent verifications. She said the council is going to decide the matter; therefore, the media need not hold debate or make speculations on the issue.

According to the SAPM, the cabinet condemned the impression allegedly created in the media that the references had been instituted by the government on a whim. She observed that it had become a daily story for discussion in the media over the last few days.

The SJC had last week issued a notice to the federal government through the attorney general regarding references filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Karim Khan Agha for hearing on June 14.

The references accuse the two judges of concealing their assets and recommend action against them under Article 209 of the Constitution.

The Special Assistant said the cabinet ratified the decisions of ECC meeting held on May 30 and approved Hajj quota for Pakistanis.

The cabinet was also apprised in detail on the damage caused to wheat crop due to hailstorm and excessive rains. It was told that over 27.9 million tons wheat is available as stock while consumption is 25.8 million tons, and there is no issue of food scarcity.

Firdous said the ruling PTI had come into power with a mandate of ensuring uniform justice in the country and on a slogan of “one, not two Pakistans”.

She added that government is talking about the rule of law and whenever it thinks a citizen, “no matter which department they belong to”, conducts an activity outside the ambit of the law and Constitution, then the law will come into force and “there will be no compromise on that”.

“It cannot happen that Imran Khan while comprising on his political interests becomes a part of the status quo and shuts his eyes to what is happening in order to prevent difficulties from rising against him,” she said.



Zartaj issue

Sources in the government said Prime Minister Khan in Monday’s cabinet meeting expressed his anger over the role of Minister of Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir in using her influence to get her sister appointed as NACTA director.

The premier had taken notice of the case when the media showed a letter from Wazir’s office recommending her sister for the job. The minister had taken back the letter after she was told by the prime minister to do so.

During the cabinet meeting, when Miss Wazir tried to offer her explanation on the issue, the premier refused to listen to her. “You shouldn’t have done that,” said the prime minister. PM Imran directed the ministers to not misuse their office.



More on judges’ cases

The SAPM at the news conference recalled the chain of events behind the filing of the references against the two judges of superior judiciary.

She said the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) of the Prime Minister’s Office had forwarded the complaints it received to the law ministry after “verification and counter-verification”. The law ministry then did a re-verification of its own before forwarding the summary to the president who then sent it to the SJC.

She said the complaint had been “verified and ratified” by the UK land registry, notarized and endorsed by the High Commission of Pakistan in London.

Firdous Awan emphasised that Prime Minister Imran had remained a part of the movement to restore the deposed judges and is ready to bring “every type of reforms” to make the judiciary independent and autonomous.



Reaction over govt move against judges

The lawyers’ representative bodies across the country have convened their meetings after Eid to devise future strategy as most of the bodies and opposition parties have opposed the government’s move to file references against the two judges, terming it an effort to undermine the independence of judiciary.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Monday threatened to protest inside courtrooms if a presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa is not withdrawn by June 14.

Speaking to the media representatives, SCBA President Amanullah Kanrani said, “Justice Isa is being punished for the sins he never committed. Tell me, which article Justice Isa has violated? If you talk about the code of conduct, then no judge will remain here”.

Kanrani hoped Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa would “tear the reference papers” and said: “I will burn a copy of the reference against Justice Isa inside the courtroom.”

The opposition-dominated Senate had last week had adopted by a majority vote a resolution demanding withdrawal of references filed against the two judges.

The Senate had expressed grave concern over filing of references against the two judges by the president “in a secretive way” while the judges concerned were unaware of the move.

The resolution said the filing of references had evoked serious criticism, caused split in the bar and led to resignation of the additional attorney general.



SJC procedure

The five-member SJC headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, if it decides to proceed against a judge, can issue a show-cause notice along with the supporting material calling upon him to explain his conduct within 14 days. On receipt of the reply from the judge, the council can convene its meeting to proceed further with the matter.

If the council at its meeting on conclusion of the proceedings forms an opinion that the judge concerned has been found guilty of misconduct or incapacitated in the performance of his duty properly, it can express its views accordingly and the same will be communicated by its chairman to the president as a report of the council for action under Article 209(6) of the Constitution.