Former law minister Dr Farogh Naseem on Monday rejected the claims that he misled the ex-prime minister on Justice Qazi Faez Isa case saying it was Imran Khan who was insistent on filing a presidential reference against the Supreme Court judge and not the law ministry.
The denial comes days after the ousted prime minister, while conceding that the filing of a reference for the removal of Justice Isa was a “mistake”, claimed that the then relevant officials had misguided his government about the facts of the case.
“Imran was not interested in pursuing the reference against the SC judge for the last couple of years,” sources had earlier told The Express Tribune.
Responding to Imran Khan’s claims of being “misled” by the law ministry, the former law minister has clarified that summaries like the one pertaining to the filing of reference against Justice Isa are of sensitive nature and therefore, they are never moved “unless and until they are cleared in advance by the prime minister and the president”.
Senator Naseem further explained that in this case, former PM Imran was insistent on moving the reference considering the material that became available with the Assets Recovery Unit (ARU), which was set up by the prime minister and worked directly under him.
‘Judiciary not against Imran’
The former law minister also dispelled the notion that the country’s judiciary was against Imran Khan.
“I have never borne any personal grudge against Justice Isa. Despite all that has transpired I still hold no personal grudge against him,” he added.
“There were rough rides during my three years as the law minister. It must be clearly understood that I normally exercise restraint. That is verily a part of my personality but make no mistake that I have every capacity to dispel any misgivings and correct the record, if so required, with vehemence, coherence and precision,” he added.
Earlier on Thursday, sources confirmed to The Express Tribune that the former prime minister conceded his “mistake” during a meeting with the Insaf Lawyers Forum (ILF) members.
Several participants of the meeting confirmed that the ex-PM admitted that the filing of a presidential reference against Justice Isa was a mistake as the then relevant officials had misguided his government about the facts of the case.
Imran was not interested in pursuing the reference against the SC judge for the last couple of years. It has been learnt that the former attorney general for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan had convinced him that Justice Isa was an honest judge and he was misled in this case.
A senior PTI lawyer said that Imran believed that one section within the superior judiciary was annoyed with the party because of the filing of the reference against Justice Isa. “Even though the architect of that reference was someone else,” the lawyer added.
However, senior lawyers say that Imran, being the chief executive of the country, could not be absolved as the reference was filed on his instructions.
Meanwhile reacting to the development, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry urged Naeem to take responsibility for his actions as the former law minister, saying that the reference was filed against the apex court judge on his insistence.
بطور لاء منسٹر آپ کو ذمہ داری لینی چاہئے، حقیقت یہ ہے کہ تمام معاملہ آپ نے کھڑا کیا میں نے کابینہ میں کہا ججز کیخلاف ریفرینس بھیجنا حکومت کا کام نہیں اگر الزامات کے ثبوت ہیں تو بار ایسوسی ریفرنس کر لے لیکن آپ کی آصرار پر ریفرینس بھیجا گیا pic.twitter.com/dvwnyOdHnB
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) April 18, 2022
“The fact is that you built the case. I said in the cabinet [meeting] that it is not the job of the government to file references against the judges,” he wrote on his Twitter handle.