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Monday April 22, 2024

Imran Khan challenges Justice Isa-led commission probing audio leaks

No judge can be nominated without the chief justice of Pakistan’s permission, states petition

By Maryam Nawaz
May 22, 2023
PTI Chairman Imran Khan speaks during an interview with AFP at his residence in Lahore on May 18, 2023. — AFP
PTI Chairman Imran Khan speaks during an interview with AFP at his residence in Lahore on May 18, 2023. — AFP

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Monday challenged the judicial commission constituted to investigate audio leaks pertaining to the judiciary in the Supreme Court.

Khan’s counsel and party leader Babar Awan filed the plea on his client’s behalf. The petition requested that the notification regarding the commission’s formation be declared null and void.

The government, on Saturday, established a three-member judicial commission to probe into audio leaks involving the retired and sitting members of the judiciary as well as lawyers casting doubts on the institution's credibility. The judicial body was tasked to complete the job within 30 days.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar earlier said that the government did not consult Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial before forming the commission.

The judicial panel — headed by Senior Puisne Judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Islamabad High Court (IHC) CJ Aamer Farooq as members — was constituted in the wake of widely circulated controversial audios which raised “serious apprehensions about the independence, impartiality and uprightness of the Chief Justices/Judges of the Superior Courts in the administration of justice”.

The government said the audio leaks raised serious apprehensions about the independence of the judiciary in the public interest; therefore, it has constituted the commission under Section 3 of the Pakistan Commissions of the Inquiry Act, 2017.

In the petition filed today, Imran Khan maintained that no judge can be nominated for the commission without the chief justice of Pakistan’s permission.

“The Supreme Judicial Council is the only forum for investigation or action against any judge of the Supreme Court,” the petition read.

In his plea, the PTI chief insisted that the commission's Terms of Reference "suffer from a deliberate omission" with no accountability of who is "behind the unlawful and unconstitutional surveillance."

Taking to his Twitter, the cricketer-turned-politician had also shared a strongly-worded tweet in this regard.

"They fail to take into account the issue that who is behind unlawful and unconstitutional surveillance of PM office and sitting judges of the Supreme Court. The Commission should be empowered to investigate who are these powerful and unknown elements who tap and record telephone conversations of citizens including high public functionaries," he tweeted.