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Thursday, June 13, 2024  
06 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

New SC bench to hear suo motu on ‘judicial meddling’

Development comes after Justice Yahya Afridi recused himself from being part of bench

A new Supreme Court bench would hear the suo motu proceedings on the alleged intelligence agencies and executive interference in judicial affairs of the country.

The new six-member apex court bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa would hear the case on April 30. It will further comprise Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Jamal Mandokhail, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Musarrat Hilali, and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

The development comes after Justice Yahya Afridi recused himself from the seven-judge bench that conducted the first hearing of the suo motu proceedings of the meddling case.

In his note attached to the order of the proceedings, he said that to proceed on the proposed action of suo motu would negate the lessons the courts have learnt from their recent judicial precedents and thus they must not be moved into action by public sentiments “no matter how pressing the issue may appear.”

A letter from the six judges, dated March 25, to the five members of the Supreme Judicial Council demanded that a judicial convention be summoned over the alleged judicial meddling. They stated that it might provide further information as to whether judges of other high courts have had similar experiences.

The six judges who signed the letter are Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, and Justice Rafat Imtiaz.

According to the six judges, such institutional consultation might then assist the Supreme Court in considering how best to protect the independence of the judiciary.

On the first proceedings of the case, CJP Isa hinted that the matter could end up in front of a full court bench at later hearings.

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In its order, the SC called for proposals from the main stakeholders in the judicial system and the independence of the judiciary. They are the Pakistan Bar Council, the Supreme Court Bar Association, the high courts, and the federal government.

Proposals would be sought from them “as to what should be the institutional response and mechanism to address the issues like the ones raised in the letter and ensure that such issues do not arise in future and if they do, to fix liability and proceed against those responsible,” said the 16-page order.

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