ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an objection raised by Attorney General for Pakistan over the inclusion of Justice Qazi Faez Isa in the five-member larger bench.

A five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Isa heard the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments’ appeals against the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) judgement in the internment centres case.

During the course of proceedings, Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor objected to the induction of Justice Isa in the bench.

Justice Mushir Alam asked AGP that Justice Faez Isa is a judge, how can he object over him? Anwar Mansoor Khan replied that a presidential reference is pending against Justice Isa.

Adjourns judge’s petition until Monday

Justice Mushir Alam asked Anwar Mansoor whether he can raise objection as an Attorney General. “Yes I can and I am raising the objection,” AG Anwar Mansoor said. The chief justice, however, set aside the objection and asked the AGP to present his arguments.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Wednesday adjourned hearing of Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s petition challenging the presidential reference filed against him over alleged non-disclosure of assets in his wealth statement till Monday.

A 10-member larger Bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar, Justice Manzoor Ahmad 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 Muhammad Amin Ahmed heard the case regarding proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

The reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa alleged that he acquired three properties in London on lease in the name of his wife and children between 2011 and 2015, but did not disclose them in wealth returns.

During the course of proceedings, Advocate Babar Sattar counsel for Justice Qazi Faez Isa said that the foreign income/asset detail was to be submitted according to the tax code from 2018.

Justice Faisal Arab asked when reference was filed.  Babar Sattar replied that the reference was filed in May 2019. Justice Faisal Arab asked does this tax code apply to this case.

Babar Sattar said that when assets did not belong to Justice Qazi Faez Isa so tax code was not applicable to him.

Justice Yahya Afridi asked the counsel that he was heading to tax issues.  While the court was hearing the matter about assets, he added.  Justice Munib Akhtar asked the counsel do not confuse different issues with each other.

Babar Sattar said that taxes are a matter between the citizen and the State.  Nobody could interfere with anyone else’s tax affairs, he added.  He said that income tax law applied on income and not to assets.

Income tax did not apply on money which was not applicable for tax, he added.  He said that Justice Qazi Faez Isa did not violate Article 116 of the tax laws. There is no mention of the money-trail in tax laws, he added.

Babar Sattar said that the money trail case first surfaced in the Panama case. He said that money trail of offshore companies has to been revealed where the identity of original owner is hidden.

Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s wife and children owned property in London and they never denied ownership of these properties, he added.  He said that paying taxes and submitting statements were different things.  He said that tax statements could be submitted even if there was no taxable income.

There is a fine of Rs 25,000 for not submitting the Wealth Statement with tax declarations, he added. Babar Sattar said that according to law, the assets of the dependent spouse, children and others must be disclosed. Justice Maqbool Baqar asked can the tax officer give his opinion without issue notice.

Babar Sattar said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) never issued notice to Justice Qazi Faez Isa and his wife.

The Tax Commissioner decided on his own for violation of Article 116, he added.  He said that his client was not accused for not submitting a wealth statement.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that it was not mandatory to show assets of spouse and children according to 2013 wealth statement form.

Babar Sattar said that nobody else was responsible for anyone’s tax related issues.  Justice Faisal Arab said that even if the wife was not dependent on her husband, it was mandatory to know her assets.