Justice Qazi Faez Isa was sworn in as the 29th Chief Justice of Pakistan on Sunday.
His term as Chief Justice in the Supreme Court will span 13 months, ending on October 25, 2024.
Justice Isa, 63, was sworn in by President Arif Alvi at a ceremony held at Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad, in the presence of caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, ministers and other senior officials among others.
Justice Isa was flanked by his wife, Sarina Isa, as the notification of his appointment was read out. This was a deviation from the previous practice, as normally close family members, including spouses, are seated in the front row during such oath-taking ceremonies.
Sarina made headlines when TV channels showed her walking with the help of a stick to face a probe by tax authorities in a case filed in 2019. The case alleged that her husband made properties in London which she owned.
Later, both Justice Isa and his wife were exonerated after backlash from the legal fraternity, who accused the then Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government led by Imran Khan of targeting the judge for delivering verdicts against the establishment in some cases.
Justice Isa is considered independent-minded and his 2019 judgment targeting the powerful establishment over a sit-in by a religious party at Faizabad, paralysing the city, landed him in trouble. A case of alleged corruption was filed against him, but later it was rejected by the Supreme Court.
His appointment comes at a time when Pakistan is facing serious constitutional, legal, and political challenges. His main test will be holding the general election within 90 days of the dissolution of Parliament on August 9. Another challenge is related to a case challenging the trial of civilians by military courts.
However, the biggest task for the Chief Justice may be is to restore the prestige and neutrality of the apex court. at a time when his predecessor, Umar Ata Bandial, is accused of having a soft corner for former prime minister Imran Khan.
Also, Justice Isa faces a mountain of over 56,000 pending cases in the Supreme Court. Some of those cases were filed years ago and have not been heard so far.
Justice Isa was born on October 26, 1959, in Quetta. His father, Qazi Muhammad Isa, was a prominent member of the movement for the establishment of Pakistan and a close associate of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
He completed his primary education in Quetta and his A and O levels at Karachi Grammar School. He then pursued law studies in London, where he completed the bar professional examination.
Justice Isa began his legal career as an advocate in the Balochistan High Court in 1985 and later became an advocate of the Supreme Court in 1998. He practised law in the Balochistan High Court and the Supreme Court for over 27 years before being appointed as the Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court in 2009. He served as chief justice of the high court from 2009 to 2014 and was elevated to the Supreme Court in 2014.
Justice Isa has recently been in the spotlight for his protest against the non-implementation of the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act, which was created during the Shahbaz Sharif era. As a form of protest, he has refrained from hearing any cases for the past five months and has chosen to work in his chambers instead.