The Supreme Court is hearing Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s petition seeking additional review of the judgement in a case pertaining to the presidential reference against him. A six-member bench led by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed is hearing the petition. As the hearing began, Justice Isa’s wife Sarina Isa said the SC Registrar made a mistake in the formation of a six-member bench, stressing that it was against the Supreme Court’s rules. “How can a six-member bench hear a petition seeking review of a decision given by a seven-member bench?” Sarina said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s special assistant Shahzad Akbar conducted press conferences to influence public opinion against her husband. During the proceedings, Sarina’s mention of the top judge’s name as a respondent in the petition irked Justice Bandial. “Be careful when you speak about the institution and its head. The chief justice has the authority to constitute a bench.” Sarina apologised, adding that she “did not mean to offend any honourable judge”. Justice Bandial remarked that she was appearing as a family member and has limited knowledge of the law. The judge affirmed that a six-member bench cannot overturn the decision of a seven-member bench. She then sought the constitution of a 10-member bench to hear the review petition. However, Justice Bandial noted that the bench was not hearing a review petition but a petition regarding the constitution of the bench. In his arguments, Justice Isa’s counsel, Munir A Malik, contended that the formation of the bench was against Article 189 of the Constitution. To which, Justice Akhtar asked whether he was including dissenting notes as part of the judgment. “Yes,” replied Malik. “The Constitution does not say that only the majority decision can be reviewed.” Sindh High Court (SHC) Bar Association counsel Rasheed A Rizvi said the public is questioning the exclusion of dissenting judges on the bench. When Justice Akhtar expressed dismay over the argument, Rizvi said he stood by his statement. “We have always fought for the independence of the judiciary and the supremacy of the Constitution. This matter concerns an esteemed judge so we are very careful,” he said. “The impression that the trial is unfair should be removed.” Justice Bandial noted that it was the Bar’s responsibility to inform and create public opinions as the judge could not directly go to the public. “This is a special case for us as well. The esteemed judge is not an accused at the moment, there are no charges against him.” The judge remarked that the independence of the judiciary was linked to its accountability. “Our decisions are balanced. On one hand, the judiciary’s independence was maintained by dismissing allegations against the judge. On the other hand, we also protected the accountability process. The court has to give a decision in accordance with the Constitution and law.” The bench has adjourned the hearing till Thursday.