The former Attorney General, Anwar Mansoor Khan had resigned from his services after raising allegations against some members of the SC bench who were hearing petitions challenging the filing of presidential reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa. Although Mansoor Khan claimed that resignation was his own decision, the law ministry affirmed that he was asked to do so. Moreover, Anwar Mansoor Khan submitted a written apology to the Supreme Court for all his statements that were passed against the members of respected judiciary. The new AG, Kalid Javed is not new to this post as he had performed his duties in the same capacity in PPP rule under the leadership of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed.
On Wednesday, The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered Anwar Mansoor – the former Attorney General to show some material basis about or tender apology for the certain statement made by him about every bench member. AG had made the statement while representing FG in the Justice Qazi Faez Isa case. The order was made after one day of the statement.
Visibly disturbed Justice Umar Ata Bandial said while dictating the order at end of Wednesday hearing, “As certain statement was made by the AG about the bench yesterday, it would be appreciated if the material on the basis of which the statement was made is placed on record before the bench”.
Justice Bandial heading the 10-judge full court observed, “If no such material is furnished, then we expect apology by the AG for having touched the matter that concerns not one, but every member of this court”. Vice chairman of Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Abid Saqi & Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Syed Qalbe Hassan were also there in the courtroom while the proceedings started with a delay of around twenty minutes. Both of them condemned earlier the statements issued by AG and decided to issue court petition against the AG and Law minister Farogh Naseem since the ‘highly objectionable’ statement (now wiped out) was made in his presence.
On Tuesday the apex court asked AG to take his statement back, but it did not end there. President of SCBA demanded an unconditional apology from AG and that he should step down from the highest office of the principal law officer. Otherwise SCBA would file a contempt petition against him and federal law minister since he is allegedly equally liable for the event in the court.
SCBA president said, “It is indeed very unfortunate that the highest law officer of the land had made such an irresponsible statement unsupported by any material, which amounts not only to undermining the public confidence in the highest court but also constitutes contempt of the apex court.”
He said, “let the government not be mistaken of SCBA’s resolve to foil any nefarious attempt by the government to disrespect and question the dignity and independence of the institution of the judiciary, by its ulterior moves to browbeat any judge with false and malicious allegations”.
PBC vice president asked through a statement to the AG for submitting an unconditional apology in written along with his resignation for his “unbecoming conduct”. The statement added that the PBC would not be tolerating any attempt by government for undermining the independence of the judiciary and the process of justice dispensation.
“Being most disturbed by the unprecedented behavior of the AG towards the apex court”, the PBC stated that it would be filing court petition’s contempt against Attorney General and the law minister.
Pakistan Bar Council prepared the draft of the court petition but did not file it in time
Justice Bandial , contrary to his usual attitude, observed in a high pitch note while referring to the AG arguments what the ARU (Assets Recovery Unit) was doing and that why it had not prepared the Attorney General to explain what, if any, the petitioner judge had made the specific law violations.
He said the Attorney General should explain the court about the specific law requiring an individual for disclosing the foreign assets of his wife & children. “Quite beautifully, you are only wasting time,” Justice Bandial expressed his regret and issued order the Attorney General for furnishing a written statement otherwise this all would be wastage of time.
When the AG replied that it was his way of extending arguments, Justice Bandial asked him again to put his arguments in writing since this was not the way of arguing the case.
Justice Bandial also dictated the order stating , “We have asked him on what factual basis he was invoking these definitions and discussion in order to understand that the reference furnished before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) prima facie amounts to misconduct. AG is granted time to collect the facts that address the definition he likes to read and has read before us”. He added that the court should be informed about the context in which the arguments have been addressed.
During the session, judges stopped AG (Anwar Mansoor Khan) and asked him to come to the point
Justice Maqbool Baqar asked him to realize the difficulty being faced by the bench since the judgment being quoted by him cannot be applied in vacuum. Justice Baqar also wondered whether law requires the petitioner judge to declare foreign assets in the name of his spouse and children.
Justice Sajjad Ali Shah told the Attorney General while explaining him the jurisdiction of SJC, “You are not telling us the misconduct on part of the judge”. He observed, “Unless the AG shows the event that constituted the misconduct, I will not be able to understand. This is the question bothering me”.
Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah observed, “Traditionally, it is the practice that lawyer brings the facts before the court to establish what constitutes misconduct”. He also added that the data on misconduct was being discussed without having knowledge about the misconduct that the petitioner judge has committed. “We cannot appreciate the arguments if we don’t understand the arguments”.
Justice Faisal Arab wondered whether a reference could be made against him as well in case he did not declare assets belonging to his family in his wealth statement. In opinion of Attorney General, the offshore properties were acquired by the source that has not been accounted for by the Judge. This act creates suspicion about money laundering. He argued that these allegations do not fall under the scope of Section 116 of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001. That is why these should be investigated.