ISLAMABAD       -          While arguing in identical petitions challenging presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa for allegedly not disclosing his foreign properties in wealth statements, Senator Raza Rabbani Tuesday contended before the Supreme Court of Pakistan that the Prime Minister on his own cannot direct any department to collect information against the judge of the apex court.

He argued this before a 10-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial in petitions wherein besides the apex court judge, Pakistan Bar Council, Supreme Court Bar Association, Bar Councils & Association of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, noted lawyer Abid Hassan Minto, and rights activist I A Rehman have challenged the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez.

During the hearing, Raza Rabbani submitted that under Article 209 of the Constitution, the President can only direct Supreme Judicial Council to inquire into misconduct of the judge.

Justice Maqbool Baqir asked Raza Rabbani if he meant to say that in this case neither president nor prime minister can order inquiry against the judge of apex court. Are you saying that the government machinery cannot be used to build up a case against the judge, the judge asked further.

The senator representing Sindh High Court Bar Association argued that if the president, prime minister or the executive had ordered inquiry then it is unconstitutional. He pleaded that it is the Supreme Court and not SJC to throw out the reference as it is illegal and unconstitutional.

He contended that the question before the court is that the reference filed by the president is non-est and mala fide in law and facts. He said the Supreme Court and not Supreme Judicial Council is competent to declare that the filing of reference is unconstitutional and illegal. The court has to see the reference is filed in accordance with the constitution, Raza Rabbani said and added that if the ground is unconstitutional then the entire structure built on it will fall.

Quoting the recent judgment of Lahore High Court [on constitution of Special Court], Rabbani said he regret to cite the judgment but the LHC had struck down the entire proceedings of the Special Court against the usurper of constitution only on the ground that it was not properly constituted.

Continuing his arguments, the senator said that it is not appropriate that the judge against whom the allegations are leveled needs to be answered. The reply of him has to come in accordance with Article 209 of Constitution. He said the inquiry conducted against the judge should be under the supervision of the Council and notice for it has to be issued by it.Raza Rabbani questioned whether the government of day can start snooping around to get information from one department to another. The departments snooping around for the information against the superior court judge is not permissible and the investigation against Justice Qazi Faez by FIA, FBR and Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) is illegal, Rabbani said while asking was it necessary to trigger inquiry by the department on Dogar’s complaint.