Federal cabinet removes SC Registrar Ishrat Ali after Justice Isa asked him to relinquish charge
ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet removed the Supreme Court Registrar Ishrat Ali on Monday soon after seniormost judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa sought his removal from office.
The SC Registrar was directed to report to the Establishment Division. The decision was taken in a special meeting of the cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad.
The participants of the meeting considered a two-point agenda, govt a briefing from Law Minister Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar and Attorney General Mansoor Usman Awan.
The cabinet meeting evaluated the issue of a circular that registrar Ishrat Ali issued against the order of the Supreme Court bench led by Qazi Faez Isa in violation of the constitution.
The federal cabinet also urged President Dr. Arif Alvi to sign the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act 2023 forthwith to save the country from constitutional and political crises.
Letter of Justice Isa & Action of the Govt
Justice Isa, wrote a strongly worded letter to the registrar of the apex court Ishrat Ali who issued a circular on March 31 “disregarding” a judgment by a three-member bench led by Justice Isa.
Earlier in the day he asked the Establishment Division to remove Ishrat Ali to stop him from further “damaging the reputation and integrity” of the apex court.
Importantly, A special apex court bench, with a two-to-one majority on March 29, ordered suspending all suo motu cases — under Article 184(3) of the Constitution — until amendments are made to the Supreme Court Rules 1980 regarding the discretionary powers of the chief justice to form benches.
Justice Isa said, “I was astonished to receive your circular’ bearing No. Registrar/2023/SCJ dated 31 March 2023. The circular purports to negate, undo, disobey, and violate the order dated 29 March 2023 of a three-member bench of the Supreme Court. passed in Suo Motu Case No. 4 of 2022. The Registrar does not have the power or authority to undo a judicial order, and the Chief Justice cannot issue administrative directions with regard thereto.”
Snubbing the registrar, Justice Isa further wrote: “Your conduct demonstrates that you do not have the requisite competence, ability, and understanding to hold the office of Registrar. Moreover, a bureaucrat holding the office of the Registrar violates Article 175(3) of the Constitution, which mandates the complete separation of the judiciary from the executive.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa asked the registrar to withdraw the circular immediately and inform all those who had set it, adding “it was in the best interest of him and that of the Supreme Court.”
Justice Isa maintained that the circular refers to a decision of the SC (Suo Motu Case no. 4/2021, PLD 2022 Supreme Court 306), adding, “If you had read it you would have realised that it pertained to invoking powers under Article 184 (3) of the constitution (suo motu). However, in the subject case suo motu notice had not been taken by the bench before which it was listed for hearing on March 15, 2023. You lost sight of this obvious distinction and did not appreciate that the case cited in the circular was not applicable.”
According to Justice Isa, the SC registrar “apparently violated the Constitution”, and he urged the authorities to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him in accordance with the applicable laws.
Consequently, the federal cabinet removed the registrar Ishrat Ali, thus giving a strong message to the judiciary going against the government.