SC begins hearing suo motu notice on IHC judges' letter

SC begins hearing suo motu notice on IHC judges’ letter

طوبیٰ Tooba 4 months ago 0 2

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday began the hearing of its suo motu notice taken on the letter written by Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges that cites complaints of interference in judicial affairs by intelligence agencies.

The hearing is being conducted by a seven-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising six other judges — Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

The SC is conducting live proceedings of the hearing.

Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan has begun his arguments in the matter. The SC has sent a notice for him to appear before the bench.

Earlier this week, the SC took suo motu notice of the matter after around 300 lawyers, belonging to various bar associations across the country, signed a petition demanding CJP Isa to exercise the apex court’s suo motu jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution on the letter.

The lawyers also rejected the formation of an inquiry commission led by former chief justice of Pakistan Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani to probe the allegations.

It was learnt that the chief justice had referred the matter to a judges’ committee — comprising himself and three senior most judges of the apex court under the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 — for deliberation and constitution of a bench for hearing the matter.

The committee later decided to exercise suo motu jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and fix the matter for hearing on April 3.

Letter by IHC judges

On March 25, six judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC) had demanded Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Qazi Faez Isa to convene the Judicial Convention to consider the matter of interference of intelligence operatives in the judicial functions or intimidation of judges in a manner that undermined independence of the judiciary.

The IHC judges, including Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, Justice Tariq Mahmood Jehangiri, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan and Justice Saman Rifat Imtiaz, wrote a letter to the chief justice, who is also the chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

After the letter went viral and considering the gravity of allegations it mentioned, the chief justice called a meeting the same day with the IHC chief justice and all the judges after Iftar at 8pm at his residence during which the concerns of all the judges were heard individually.

The following day, on March 27, the CJP met with the attorney-general and the law minister, and thereafter, the chief justice and the senior puisne judge met with the president of Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the senior most member of the Pakistan Bar Council in Islamabad.

A full-court meeting of all the SC judges, called under the chairmanship of the chief justice of Pakistan at 4pm the same day, deliberated on the issues raised in the letter.

The full-court developed a consensus by majority that the chief justice may hold a meeting with the prime minister of and raise the issue with him. CJP Isa then met with Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the Supreme Court where he clearly stated that interference by the executive in the affairs and judicial workings of judges will not be tolerated.

During the meeting, constitution of an inquiry commission was proposed under the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 2017. The prime minister fully endorsed the views expressed by the CJP and senior puisne judge and assured them that he will be taking other appropriate measures to ensure an independent judiciary.

After further consultations among the CJP and other judges as well as the federal government’s actions in this regard, the announcement of a one-man inquiry commission comprising former CJP Tassaduq Hussain Jillani was made, who recused himself from the opportunity, citing various constitutional reasons.

More to follow…

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