ISLAMABAD: On Monday, the Supreme Court heard the application filed by the coalition government seeking withdrawal of the curative review petition filed against Justice Qazi Faez Isa by the previous government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI).

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial presided over the hearing in his chamber, and after listening to the arguments presented by Attorney General Mansoor Awan, the chief justice reserved the verdict on the matter.

The Attorney General argued that there was no room for a second review or curative review in the Constitution, citing the example of India where a second review was filed after a court judgment in 2002, following which the Indian Supreme Court amended its rules and created a provision for curative review.

The AG noted that in the current case, there was an objection on the administrative side by the Registrar Office against which there existed a remedy in the rules, and that the government did not avail that remedy at the time when the reference was filed. Despite this, the incumbent government decided to withdraw the curative review reference without availing the remedy.

It is worth mentioning that the Chief Justice Bandial heard the plea of the incumbent government seeking the withdrawal of its curative review petition against a court order that accepted the review petitions challenging the court’s June 19, 2020, judgment on the Presidential Reference against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, wherein the apex court had empowered the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to conduct an inquiry into the assets of the judge’s family.

Justice Isa and various bar associations later filed review petitions against the June 19, 2020 judgment, and on April 26, 2021, a ten-member full court of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Bandial, allowed Justice Isa’s petition and others by a majority of six to four. They held that all subsequent proceedings, actions, orders, information, and reports in pursuance of the directions contained in the short order dated 19-6-2020 and the detailed reasons thereof, are declared to be illegal and without any legal effect.

Earlier on July 8, 2021, the PTI government had filed chamber appeals in the Supreme Court against the objections raised by its Registrar Office on the curative petitions seeking review on Justice Isa’s case. After removing the objections, the PTI government filed chamber appeals praying to review the verdict given by the apex court on April 26 in the review petitions filed by Justice Isa to the extent of referring the matter to the FBR.

Later, on March 30, the incumbent government approved the withdrawal of the curative review reference, as it decided not to pursue the matter further.

The case highlights the legal complexities that can arise when there is a change in government and a new administration takes office. The current government’s decision to withdraw the curative review petition raises questions about its motives and whether it is acting in the best interest of justice.

The Attorney General’s argument that there is no room for a second review or curative review in the Constitution may be technically correct, but it ignores the fact that legal systems evolve and adapt over time to address new challenges and situations.

The case also underscores the importance of judicial independence and the need for the judiciary to be insulated from political pressures and influence. It is essential for the judiciary to operate independently and impartially, free from any political or other external interference, to uphold the rule of law and protect the rights of citizens.