Mr. Justice Qazi Faez Isa
Justice Qazi Faez Isa is the son of the late Qazi Mohammad Isa of Pishin, who was at the forefront of the Pakistan Movement, and the grandson of Qazi Jalaluddin, the Prime Minister of pre-Pakistan Kalat State. Justice Isa’s father was the first person from Balochistan to be called to the Bar of England and Wales (Middle Temple). Upon his return from London Mr. Jinnah, the President of the All India Muslim League, nominated him as the provincial President of Muslim League which he made into a potent political force in Balochistan. Qazi Mohammad Isa had the distinction of serving as the only member on the Central Working Committee of the All-India Muslim League from Balochistan. Justice Isa’s mother, Mrs. Saida Isa, was a dedicated social-worker, and also worked in an honorary capacity on the boards of hospitals and other charitable organizations focusing on education, children, and women’s health issues.
Before his elevation to the Bench Justice Isa wrote for Pakistan's premier English newspaper on a diverse range of subjects, including the Constitution, law, Islam and environment, and he co-authored ‘Mass Media Laws and Regulations in Pakistan’ (Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC), Singapore, 1997), which was the first book on the subject. He also wrote the report titled ‘Balochistan: Case and Demand’ (Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), 2007).
Justice Isa has an association with the law spanning forty-five years. He studied law for four years, worked as a lawyer for about 27 years and was appointed as the Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court on 5 August 2009. He was appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court on 5 September 2014.
Justice Isa’s judgments reflect a strong desire to adhere to the Constitution and the rule of law, and to safeguard public interest. The following are a few of his notable judgments:
Mohammad Aslam Khaki v Khalid Farooq Khan (2023 SCMR 1208) was an important judgment which addressed a number of issues, including, preservation of parks, land allotments and elite capture. ‘Every designated park/green area must be preserved; these areas may also be for the use and/or benefit of the public. Designated parks and green areas must not be allowed to be converted for exclusive private use and/or private profit.’ ‘Elite dismantling of the division between private and public interest disrupt a just social order and the spirit of community. The Constitution requires that Pakistan be ‘a democratic State based on Islamic principles of social justice’. ‘Land is a valuable asset of the State, therefore, when land is given away for free or at subsidized rates to the powerful elite by an impoverished State it harms the State because selling it at market rate would have alleviated the debt burden which condemns to servitude and poverty those not born yet.’ ‘The poor of this nation eke out a living with great difficulty and are lucky if they manage a roof over their heads. The State of Pakistan is heavily indebted and impecunious. In blatant disregard of the people and the country the elite capture land. Autogenously exceptional and self-entitlement is hollowing out the State and creating an unsustainable environment.
Projecting oneself by misusing public funds was put a stop to in Deputy Administrator Evacuee Trust Property v Sakhi Muhammad Kiani (PLD 2023 Supreme Court 229). ‘To name public/government properties and anything planned, developed and/or managed from public/government funds or to project oneself, as in the present case by getting one’s photograph affixed on the sanads, violates the Constitution, undermines Pakistan’s Islamic moorings, is without lawful authority, and, if one may add, is also in bad taste.’
In his additional note in the case of Federal Government Employees Housing Foundation v Ghulam Mustaf (2021 SCMR 201) Justice Isa made significant observations. ‘Pakistan is heavily indebted. The people pay astronomical amounts to service the accumulated debt.’ ‘And, the government continues to take more loans; piling debt upon debt, and adding billions to debt servicing. Debt-servicing is the single largest component of the Federal expenditure. Children, their unborn children and the unborn children of the unborn are born into poverty, and will remain impoverished till death. In this dire situation giving away the one asset that the people do have, their land, is inexplicable.’ ‘It needs restating that the people have not sanctioned the distribution of land to judges and to the members of the Armed Forces.’ ‘Most Pakistanis struggle their entire lives to put a roof over their heads. Judges and officers of the armed forces who receive land in prized urban locations invariably do not build on it a house for themselves to live in, and those officers who get agricultural lands do not cultivate it. They sell their plots and agricultural land or become absentee landlords.’
In Shaukat Ali v State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan (PLD 2023 SC 260), he held that the honorific - honourable - should not to be used with inanimate objects and institutions, including courts, and that the excessive use of honorifics was ‘invariably found to serve as a substitute for meaningful arguments.’
The need to protect and preserve the natural world and the environment is reflected in many of Justice Isa’s judgments. In Shah Zaman Khan v Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (PLD 2023 Supreme Court 340) he held that: ‘The natural world is an epiphany yet the extraordinary bounty of nature and creation’s perfect balance has been disrupted. The warning not to tamper with nature’s balance is not heeded. Some view nature as an inert repository of resources to subdue, remove and deplete, and profiteering as their right. ‘As the land becomes impoverished so too does the scope of their vision’. Reverence for the natural world has become peripheral. Humanity needs to regain its lost consciousness and its primordial link to nature.  Humans must assume their responsibility as trustees of the earth and of all of creation;  and, not to be deaf and dumb, engulfed in darkness.  The trees of the forest are sentient beings and, like human beings, part of the biotic community. In regaining their trusteeship humans also salvage their humanity, and save themselves and their progeny.
The Holy Qur’an is referenced to protect the natural world, for instance in the case of Province of Sindh v Lal Khan Chandio (PLD 2016 Supreme Court 48). ‘We alone of all of the Almighty’s creation have been bestowed with the responsibility to maintain balance and not to rupture the order of nature; “Do not waste, verily, He [Allah] does not like those who waste (al-musrifun)” (surah al-anam 6, verse 141) “And do not do mischief on the earth, after it has been set in order” (surah al-araf 7, verse 56). Actions that destroy, devastate or impair “His Creation” (surah al-araf 8, verse 54) are prohibited.’ Justice Isa connects the commandments from Up High with the Constitution. ‘If a specie were to be hunted till it becomes extinct or vulnerable it would impair a Muslim’s ability to lead his/her life in accordance with religion and to practice it, thus violating Article 20. It is important to heed our duties as stewards of the earth for the preservation and conservation of natural resources and to take care of Allah’s creatures.’ ‘The fundamental right to life and to live it with dignity (Articles 9 and 14 of the Constitution) is one lived in a world that has an abundance of all species not only for the duration of our lives but available for our progeny too. It has now been scientifically established that if the earth becomes bereft of birds, animals, insects, trees, plants, clean rivers, unpolluted air, soil it will be the precursor of our destruction/extinction.’
Justice Isa has rendered decisions in cases of intellectual property. In Shezan Services (Pvt.) v Shezan Bakers & Confectionaries (Pvt.) Limited (PLJ 2022 SC 345) he protected the owner/proprietor’s rights to a well-known local trademark (Shezan). And, in Naila Naeem Younus v Indus Services Limited (2022 SCMR 1171) he protected the petitioner’s shareholding in a company, holding that she could not be deprived on the ostensible ground that she had not filed an application to rectify the company’s register within a particular period. The decision of the High Court was set-aside because it was not realized that the Companies Act, 2017 was a self-contained law, and as those asserting ownership to the petitioner’s shares had failed to establish their ownership thereto.
Justice Isa has also been in the forefront of ensuring that ladies are not deprived of their inheritance rights. In Muhammad Rafiq v Ghulam Zohran Mai (2023 SCMR 988) he held that, ‘We have often noted on the part of some male heirs, which is to deprive female heirs of their inheritance, which constitutes fraud.’ Special costs were imposed on the male heirs. Another device used to deprive female heirs was to deny their paternity and embroil them in litigation; this was put a stop to in the case of Laila Qayyum v Fawad Qayyum (PLD 2019 Supreme Court 449) and Munir Hussain v Riffat Shamim (2023 SCMR 6).
Section 4 of the Muslim Laws Ordinance, 1961, which had granted inheritance rights to a pre-deceased’s child’s children, was held to be applicable till the question regarding the validity of this provision was decided by the Shariat Appellate Bench of the Supreme Court in Kalsoom Begum v Peran Ditta (2022 SCMR 1352); as stipulated by Article 203(D) of the Constitution.
Justice Isa held in Beena v Raja Muhammad (PLD 2020 Supreme Court 508) that, ‘In determining the welfare of the child and his custody neither the mother’s physical condition nor her income were determinative factors. It was also inappropriate to refer to the mother as crippled or disabled. The petitioner has a physical disability; she should not be called a cripple or disabled. The mother has not resorted to beggary; she works and earns an honest living. To denigrate such a lady was wholly inappropriate. Instead she should be admired for demonstrating remarkable determination and perseverance.’
Killing women in the name of honour was condemned, and so too the use of such terminology in Muhammad Abbas v State (PLD 2020 Supreme Court 620). ‘It needs restating that killing is never honourable. And, a murder should not be categorized as such.’ ‘Extremism and violence has permeated through Pakistani society and it has been brutalized. Not enough is done to ensure that crimes against women do not take place. Respect and language play an important role to bring about a positive change in society and using terminology such as ghairat or honour is not helpful.’
In Adeel Rasheed v The State (PLD 2022 Supreme Court 795) Justice Isa issued a community service orders as he found that its issuance was not incompatible under the Probation of Offenders Ordinance, 1960. ‘A probation order which mandates community service benefits the offender, the community and the State, as it saves the expense of keeping a convict imprisoned, and it also prevents the overcrowding of prisons.’ The judgment referred to the first recorded use of a community service type order which was by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The Salamat Mansha Masih v The State (PLD 2022 SC 751) case pertained to offences allegedly committed against religion. Justice Isa noted the potential of misuse of these laws, and that they must be applied with due care. ‘Abiding by Islamic jurisprudential principles, applying the constitutionally guaranteed right to fair trial and due process, and acting prudently to ensure that an innocent is not convicted wrongly in respect of offences relating to religion, when there is only the improbable oral testimony of witnesses, then there must be corroboration. Oftentimes righteous zeal, moral outrage, and/or indignation also steers the prosecution to a pre-determined destination by eclipsing the general standard of proof in criminal cases; that is, beyond reasonable doubt.’
Principal Public School Sangota v Sarbiland (2022 SCMR 189) dealt with a girls’ school which was closed when it was attacked by terrorists, ostensibly expressing adherence to Islam, who opposed the education of girls. It was noted that this was anathema to Islam. ‘The first command from Almighty Allah to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and through him to humanity, was Iqra – Read. Iqra is a command; it is expressed in the command form of the Arabic verb. This first command proceeds to then mention the pen (qalam) and education or learning (ilm). Of the myriad of things that the Most Benevolent Creator could have conveyed in the first revelation in the Holy Qur’an He, in his Infinite Wisdom and Mercy, considered reading, writing and education to be of the primary importance.’
In Shafqat v State (PLD 2019 Supreme Court 43) Justice Isa disagreed with his colleagues, who were of the opinion that if an offence is compounded it also wipes out of the conviction. Justice Isa held that, ‘The sentence, which follows a conviction, can be brought to an end by the victim or by the victim’s heirs by forgiving the convict and this may also be done by an executive pardon. However, neither individuals, who are entitled to compound, nor the executive, which has the power to pardon, can exercise judicial power by setting aside a conviction and or acquit a convict.’
Justice Isa’s strict constitutional approach was reflected in the Faizabad Dharna case (PLD 2019 Supreme Court 318). ‘The right to assemble and protest is circumscribed only to the extent that it infringes on the fundamental rights of others, including their right to free movement and to hold and enjoy property’, and thus ‘protestors who obstruct people’s right to use roads and damage or destroy property must be proceeded against in accordance with the law and held accountable.’
In Action Against Distribution of Development Funds to MNAs/MPAs By Prime Minister (PLD 2021 Supreme Court 446) Justice Isa objected to the manner in which Court benches were constituted. ‘Loyalty is always to the Constitution, which needs remembering and restating; if the head of an institution deviates he must be reminded.’ ‘To exclude senior judges from benches when important constitutional issues are to be heard neither serves the institution nor the people.’ On merits too he dissented from his colleagues. ‘Elections to the Senate are to be held next month, right before which (as reported in the media) the Prime Minister made the statement, that five hundred million rupees as development funds would be given to legislators or spent in their constituencies. The Documents suggested that the Prime Minister kept his word. Both sides of the political divide have been publicly making serious allegations against the other of buying votes. It had also been alleged that the election of the Hon’ble Chairman of the Senate was seriously tainted. In these circumstances, the Supreme Court could not ignore such alleged constitutional transgressions and permit the barter of the peoples’ rights.’
In Sindh Revenue Board v Civil Aviation Authority, (2017 SCMR 1344) the imposition of ‘sales tax on services’ imposed on the Civil Aviation Authority, a Federal regulatory body, by the Sindh legislature was struck down. ‘Neither the Federation nor the provinces should invade upon the rights of the other nor encroach on the other’s legislative domain.’
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was castigated by Justice Isa in the case of Khalid Humayun v NAB (PLD 2017 Supreme Court 194) for having entered into a plea bargain with a government servant who was caught red-handed with an amount of 699,967,958 rupees; ‘the acceptance of the plea bargain by the Chairman runs counter to the stated object [of the NAB Ordinance] to eradicate corruption and to hold accountable all those persons accused of such practice; instead, the message that emanates from NAB is that, if one surrenders only the amount which was seized he will be let off. The rising tide of insidious corruption devastates lives.’
Justice Isa put a stop to the wastage of public funds by governments engaging private counsel. ‘The Federal Government and the provincial governments have a host of law officers who are paid out of the public exchequer. If a government contends that none amongst its law officers are capable of handling cases, then the question would arise why incompetent persons have been appointed. In such a scenario the public suffers twice, firstly, they have to pay for incompetent law officers, and secondly, they have to pay again for the services of competent counsel the government engages. The public exchequer is not there to be squandered in this manner.’ (Rasheed Ahmad v Federation of Pakistan, PLD 2017 Supreme Court 121)
The Twenty-First Amendment to the Constitution, which enabled the trial of civilians by military courts, was challenged in the case of District Bar Association, Rawalpindi v Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2015 Supreme Court 410, at 1158-1209). Justice Isa wrote a powerful dissent expressing his opinion that such trials did not accord with the Constitution.
Justice Isa has also headed two three-member judicial inquiry commissions: Memo Inquiry Commission and Assassination Attempt on Justice Khawaja Sharif Inquiry Commission, serious allegations leveled against the civilian leadership of a political party in both matters were found to be false. Justice Isa also conducted the single Judge Quetta Inquiry Commission with regard to the two terrorist attacks in Quetta on 8 August 2016 which killed 75, the majority of whom were lawyers; Justice Isa managed to unearth the perpetrators, and recommended how to effectively combat terrorism and the propagation of fallacious ideologies.
 Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Preamble, which by virtue of Article 2A is a ‘substantive part of the Constitution and shall have effect accordingly.’
 Al-Qur’an, Al-Hijr (15) verse 19 and Al-Rahman (55) verse 7.
 Ibid., Al-Rahman (55) verse 8.
 Robin Will Kimmerer (Professor of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York), ‘Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowldege and the teaching of Plants,’ 2013.
 ‘Fitrat’, Al-Qur’an, Al-Rum (30) verse 30. Al-Fatir which means the Originator or The Creator is also one of the names of God, Al-Qur’an, Fatir (35), see also: Al-Anam (6) verse 14, Yusuf (12) verse 101, Ibrahim (14) verse 10, Az-Zumar (39) verse 46 and Ash-Shura (42) verse 11.
 ‘Khalifah fil ardh’, Al-Qur’an, Al-Baqarah (2) verse 30 and Al-Anam (6) verse 165, The Preamble of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan mentions ‘...soveriegnty over the entire Universe belongs to Almighty Allah alone, and the authority to be exercised by the people of Pakistan within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust…”
 All of creation is for a wise and just purpose, Al-Qur’an, Ad-Dukhan (44) verse 38, And created it all for the Truth, Al-Qur’an, Al Jathiyah (45) verse 22.
 Al-Qur’an, Al-Anam (6) verse 39.
 Al-Qur’an: Al-Hajj (22) verse 18, Al-Isra (17) verse 44, An-Nahl (16) verses 48-50, Al-Hadid (57) verse 1.
 Al-Qur’an, surahAl-‘Alaq (96) verse 1.
 fael amer.
 Al-Qur’an, surah Al-‘Alaq (96) verse 4.
 Ibid., verse 5.
 A political party together with its coalition partners did not have majority in the Senate yet their candidate was elected as its Chairman. The late Mr. Hasil Bizenjo, a senior politician from Balochistan, had made a very serious allegation; the Election Commission did not determine whether his statement was true or not, therefore, doubts linger; if it was false statement, it had unnecessarily maligned the named individual and had also undermined the election results, but if it was true it would have serious consequences.