A senior judge of Pakistani Supreme Court on Monday accused President Arif Alvi of "violating" his oath by leaking selected judiciary-related documents to media with an intent to tarnish his image.
Justice Qazi Faiz Isa- known for his independent judgments and remarks in cases against the government and the powerful army- is currently facing a reference in the supreme judicial council for allegedly concealing his assets.
Justice Isa, who is going to be the chief justice of Supreme Court in 2023, penned a letter to President Alvi asking him as to why he had allegedly leaked particular parts of reference against him to the media with a clear intent to malign his and his family's reputation, according to local broadcaster Geo News.
"Mr. President my due process and fair trial constitutional protection has been violated even before the(supreme judicial) council has issued me a notice and I have had an opportunity to submit my reply to the reference," Justice Isa stated in his five-page letter to the president.
He charged the federal ministers and other government officials with carrying out a character assassination campaign against him on the basis of leaked documents by the president, and in the name of so-called accountability.
"Mr President, is this behavior appropriate and in accordance with the law," the letter read adding "spreading selective content and speaking about was not a violation of the oath".
The government, for its parts, said it had sent the reference to the supreme judicial council after a state-run Asset Recovery Unit established proof of undisclosed overseas properties owned by the judge in question.
"No one is above the law", Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan quoted Prime Minister Imran Khan as saying at a press conference while defending the move that has drawn a nationwide criticism, mainly from lawyers.
Amanullah Kunrani, President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) -- the main body of the country's all bar associations -- warned the government of "dire consequences" if the reference was not withdrawn.
"Justice Isa is a man of integrity. he has not violated any of the clauses pertaining to superior court judges", Kunrani told reporters in capital Islamabad demanding that President Alvi resign or the parliament impeach him for violating his oath.
"He (Justice Isa) has exposed terrorism and “people who do not speak against terrorists are facilitators of terrorism”, the SCBA president opined.
He was referring to the two particular cases, a violent sit in by a religious group in Islamabad last year and killing of scores of lawyers in a suicide attack in southwestern Quetta city in 2016. In both cases, Justice Isa held a section of law enforcing agencies for their patronage and failure.
Analysts view the move as alarming for an already embattled government itself as the lawyers have threatened to launch a countrywide movement if any unlawful action is taken to remove the independent judges from judiciary.
This, as reckoned, could be the sequel of a 2007 lawyers movement that toppled the government of then military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf. Gen Musharraf who is currently facing a high treason case for dismissing the former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and imposing a state of emergency in 2007.
Headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, the supreme judicial council- the only constitutional authority mandated by the country's constitution to conduct inquiries into allegations of incapacity or misconduct against a judge of the Supreme or a High Court- is slated to hear reference against Justice Isa on June 14.