ISLAMABAD    -   The Supreme Court Monday retracted its verbal observation of dissolving the 10-member full bench hearing the petitions challenging the presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and decided that the same bench will continue its hearing.

Earlier in the day, during the hearing of the case, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who was presiding over the full court bench, announced that one member, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, would not be available due to a family bereavement. He observed that the matter had now been referred to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Asif Saeed Khosa for reconstitution of the bench.

However, the apex court in its written order maintained that Justice Mazhar will resume his duties from next week and Justice Isa’s petition will remain adjourned till October 28.

Earlier during the hearing, Justice Isa’s counsel, Muneer A Malik, said he would place his submission regarding the reconstitution of the bench, but Justice Bandial asserted that it was not his choice “whether the bench should be reconstituted or not”.

Speaking to reporters after the announcement, representatives of superior bars had objected to the reconstitution of the bench, particularly since the case had already been partly heard.

On Oct. 10, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan had submitted a response in a presidential reference filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

In the response, the court was told that Justice Isa was the original owner of three properties in Britain and was still reluctant to reveal the sources of his income used to purchase the properties.

The attorney general had further mentioned that the presidential reference postulated ‘benami’ nature of the properties abroad “which were concealed and not disclosed as required by the law.” Importantly, the wife and children of the petitioner judge had no independent source of income and were not in a position to provide funds necessary for the purchase of three properties when they were bought.

“As the attorney general, it is my responsibility to advise the council […] Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s allegations are solely based on assumptions […] transparency and accountability is an integral part of democracy,” Mr Mansoor Khan had stated in the courtroom.

The court was informed that the only conclusion which could be drawn was that the said properties were ‘benami’ in nature and the petitioner judge was the ostensible owner of these properties.

Mr Mansoor Khan had further told the court that it was not wrong for the law minister to distribute checks in the bar councils.

“No one is above the Law […] Under Article 248 the president and the prime minister are given exemption for performing their duties,” he had said, while requesting the court to dispose of the petition filed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa.