ISLAMABAD - The news of a reference against Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa stirred up a controversy as the TV channels without confirmation flashed it on the screens, while the offices of the National Assembly speaker and attorney general for Pakistan refuted it.

Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa has been in the news since he quoted novel of ‘The Godfather’ in his judgment on the Panama Leaks case. The reason behind creating the controversy is that Justice Khosa will head a five-member bench of the apex court to hear review petitions of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his children.

Being the senior-most judge of the apex court, he is also a member of the Supreme Judicial Council where complaint against NAB Chairman Qamar-uz-Zaman is pending. According to the SJC rules, the chief justice of Pakistan, two senior-most judges of the apex court and two senior chief justices of the high courts are its members.

Justice Khosa will become chief justice of Pakistan for 11 months on the retirement of Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar. He has not only passed judgment against Nawaz Sharif, but also against former chief of army staff General (r) Pervez Musharaf.

The SC registrar, who is also secretary of the SJC, denied receiving any complaint against Justice Khosa. The statement issued by AGP Ashtar Ausaf said: “It appears that someone or some political party is trying to create a wedge between the legislature and the judiciary. You may have noticed a lot of disinformation being spread around. The idea seems to create despondency,” he added.

The National Assembly speaker’s office also contradicted the news. The National Assembly spokesman said: “The speaker has not filed any reference against any judge of the Supreme Court.” He cautioned the media to refrain from airing baseless and erroneous news.

Earlier in the day, a five-page complaint against Justice Khosa was circulated among media persons, wherein page 2 of the document which seemingly detailed Justice Khosa’s alleged ‘misconduct’, was missing. There were no signatures or stamp on the complaint.

According to copies of the ‘reference’, the speaker had allegedly complained that Justice Khosa’s calling him as a nominee or loyalist of the prime minister is a misstatement and contrary to the facts. It is also tantamount to disparagement and breach of privilege of the august house of the National Assembly comprising 342 members and the speaker elected by those members as the custodian of the house.

The document further says the NA speaker was also quoted as taking strong exception to the judge’s observation that the former ‘failed’ to file a reference against the prime minister, rebuking it by saying, “The office of the speaker is not an investigating agency.”

Para 68 of Justice Khosa’s judgment says: “…Even the speaker of the National Assembly who could refer the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan belongs to his political party and is his nominee.”

The reference used unusually harsh language against Justice Khosa, including the statement that the honourable judge “miserably failed to comprehend and appreciate the speaker’s powers under the Constitution. He is either totally ignorant of the provisions of the Constitution or has been prejudiced by his pre-inclination to condemn the constitutional offices of the state and that the judge’s continuation in office would give him further opportunity to write such biased, ill-founded and disputed judgments.”

Other accusations included Justice Khosa’s alleged contempt for the speaker’s position according to the warrant of precedent and the insinuation that the honourable judge “tarnished the noble image and reputation enjoyed by the judiciary in Pakistan and the comity of nations.”