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Thursday, June 13, 2024  
06 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

SC resumes suo motu hearing on judicial meddling

Six-member bench led by CJP presiding over hearing
Screengrab via YouTube/Supreme Court of Pakistan Live Proceedings
Screengrab via YouTube/Supreme Court of Pakistan Live Proceedings

A six-member Supreme Court bench resumed on Tuesday a suo motu hearing on a case related to allegations made by six Islamabad High Court judges regarding interference by the executive and intelligence agencies in judicial matters.

The bench comprises presiding judge Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan. The proceedings are being streamed live on the SC’s website and its YouTube channel.

Six IHC judges — out of a total strength of eight — wrote a letter to the Supreme Judicial Council in March, demanding the SJC meeting as they raised they highlighted the alleged intelligence agencies’ interference in the judicial affairs.

They highlighted the purported attempts to pressure judges through the abduction and torture of their relatives as well as secret surveillance inside their homes.

The letter was signed by judges Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Babar Sattar, Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Arbab Muhammad Tahir and Saman Rafat Imtiaz.

The apex court started the suo motu proceedings after former CJP Tassaduq Hussain Jillani recused himself from a one-man inquiry commission to probe the matter.

On the first hearing, the seven-member SC bench hinted at a full court hearing. In its written order, the top court wondered about the judiciary’s response as an institution to the allegations levelled by the high court judges.

Justice Yahya Afridi, a member of the bench, recused himself from the bench hearing the present suo motu proceedings.

At the previous hearing, the apex court said that the judiciary must be protected.

Letter

Six judges of Islamabad High Court demanded that a judicial convention be summoned over the alleged interference of intelligence agencies in the judiciary.

“We believe that individual judges must not be required to be as brave as Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the chief justice of Pakistan, to fight persecution at the hands of the executive on their own, or as resolute as Justice Siddiqui, to continue to fight a wrong for personal vindication long after removal from office,” said the 12-page letter addressed to the five members of the Supreme Judicial Council.

At least two letters written to the IHC chief justice on the same matter over the last two years were also made part of a dozen-page letter sent on Monday.

It contained 10 points, mentioning the events where alleged interference of spy agencies and the executive in the judiciary were seen.

One of the points mentioned former jurist Justice Siddiqui who publicly alleged that operatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence led by former DG Major General (retd) Faiz Hameed were determining the constitution of benches. He was “wrongfully” removed on a SJC report.

In their sixth point, they mentioned that some of the judges hearing case against former prime minister Imran Khan had sought extra security for their homes. “One of the judges had to be admitted in a hospital due to high blood pressure caused by stress.”

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IHC full court decides to give institutional response on judicial interference

They stressed the need for an institutional response to uphold and protect the independence of the judiciary if it was the “salient feature of the Constitution meant to uphold fundamental rights and dispense justice” according to the law.

“We, therefore, request a judicial convention be called to consider the matter of interference of intelligence operatives with judicial functions and/or intimidation of judges in a manner that undermines the independence of the judiciary,” it said.

The judges were of the view that such a convention might provide further information as to whether judges of other high courts have had similar experiences.

“Such institutional consultation might then assist the Supreme Court to consider how best to protect independence of the judiciary, put in place a mechanism to affix liability for those who undermine such independence and clarify for the benefit of individual judges the course of action they must take when they find themselves at the receiving end of interference and/or intimidation by members of the executive.”

More to follow…

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