Judges Reference: A vague and loose proposition

Islamabad (News Alert Special)

In an otherwise a strong case in terms of the government understanding, legal experts and constitutionalists believe here that the august supreme judicial council look weak, vague and loose.

Disclosure has been made by Justice K K Agha in his wealth statement however “value” has not been made public,’ the document says.

The experts say the parliamentarians and many others have referred to their wealth statement stating value in only few millions for properties worth billions, however they were not barred by any court, election commission or any other legal forum are they are there holding offices in treasury or the opposition. Meanwhile people are getting mobilised by Supreme Court, High Court bars saying that the politically motivated references are made, fabricated and designed to malign Judges.

In its reference filed with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against Sindh High Court’s (SHC) Justice K K Agha, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has alleged that although the judge had declared his foreign properties in 2018, he did not disclose their ‘value’.

The government has also accused the SHC judge of concealing his immovable properties in Pakistan prior to the tax year 2015 despite the fact that his annual income was over Rs1 million, an official who has seen the 25-page reference told The Express Tribune.
He said the references against the SHC judge and Supreme Court’s Justice Qazi Faez Isa have been initiated on the report of the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) and the Federal Board of Revenue.
On April 10, the ARU had received a complaint from one Abdul Waheed Dogar providing information that the two judges possessed properties abroad.

Report of Federal Board of Revenue

With its complaint, the federal government has attached an FBR report which reads that Justice Agha jointly purchased a property, ‘No 17 Calvert Close Belvedere Kent’, on November 24, 2005 but did not declare it in his wealth statement until the tax year 2018. Even then, the property was declared at zero value.

The report further stated that the SHC judge had not filed his tax declarations between 2005 and 2014. He filed his declarations for the tax years 2015, 2016 and 2017, but did not disclose his property in Kent (UK).

The FBR report stated that Justice Agha also owned an offshore property, ‘No 40 Kerwin Close Dartford UK’, which was declared in his wealth statement for the tax year 2018 at zero value. The judge declared an offshore bank account at Lloyds Bank UK in his wealth statement filed for 2018 for the first time but with zero balance.
FIA report
The Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) report has also been attached with the reference wherein it is stated that the SHC judge is a dual national and used both Pakistani and British passports for his 64 international trips since 2004.
“It is apparent that he [Justice Agha] maintains two different names, one in the CNIC and other in his passport which has independent consequences,” read the government complaint. “But a judge of a superior court maintaining different names or entities in CNIC and the passport is much more objectionable than an ordinary person doing the same. As per the code of conduct, the conduct of a judge has to be blameless and free from any impropriety.”
Charges against the judge
The government has alleged that the SHC judge did not disclose his immovable properties in Pakistan prior to the tax year 2015 Despite an annual income of over Rs1 million.
It is also alleged that SHC judge deliberately concealed his assets in UK in the tax years of 2015, 2016 and 2017. He acquired his first property in 2005. He declared his UK properties and bank account at zero value which was incorrect.

“These properties are not accounted for in his wealth reconciliation statement for the tax year 2018 and before,” read the reference.

It is also stated that the value or cost of acquisition of the UK properties have not been stated intentionally in violation of the law.

“The sole purpose of showing these properties at zero value for the year 2018 appears to be to evade the duty to reconcile his wealth, which the learned judge could not do so if he had assigned values to the cost or the present market prices of such properties. There is thus clear-cut concealment and violation of section 116 of the 2001 Ordinance, begging the application of penal provisions of law,” according to the reference.

It is stated that Justice Agha had violated Article II of the Code of Conduct of Judges according to which judges should be blameless. The code’s Article III has also been referred wherein it is stated that a judge should “keep his conduct in all things officials and private, free from impropriety”.

The official further said the government had also relied on the ARU and FBR reports while filing a 31-page reference against Justice Isa.

Surprisingly the investigation and prosecution system in Pakistan is either destined for victimisation or has no proper base wherein the public prosecutor could see the national interest. The NRO case is a classical big case in Pakistan where the entire nation was be-fooled in the end of the day and nothing could be proved despite the fact there were ample unimpeachable proofs and evidences.

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