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Tuesday May 30, 2023

SC larger bench formed to hear pleas against Isa-led audio leak commission

CJP Bandial-led bench will take up petitions today at 11am

May 25, 2023
The facade of the Supreme Court. — SC website
The facade of the Supreme Court. — SC website

ISLAMABAD: A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court has been formed to take up petitions against the inquiry commission headed by senior puisne Judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa tasked to probe audio leaks involving judges.

The larger bench headed by CJP Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Syed Hassan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed will take up the petitions today (Friday) at 11am.

Last week, the federal government formed a high-powered judicial commission headed by senior SC Judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court to probe the audio leaks related to the judiciary.

The commission has been tasked to complete the inquiry within 30 days.

Among the multiple audio leaks, the commission will also probe into the veracity of the alleged call between former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and a sitting top court judge as well as another call between CM Elahi and a Supreme Court lawyer over the constitution of an apex court bench.

Subsequently, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan questioned the government for the "deliberate omission" of the terms of reference (TORs) and challenged the formation of the three-member judicial commission on audio leaks.

Babar Awan, the PTI chief's lawyer and party leader, had filed the plea on his behalf requesting the court to declare the notification for constituting the commission null and void.

Similarly, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Abid Zubairi had also challenged the audio leaks commission to summon directing him to appear before the panel in connection with the inquiry.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar earlier said that the government did not consult CJP Bandial before forming the commission.

The judicial panel — headed by Justice 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 audio leaks which raised “serious apprehensions about the independence, impartiality and uprightness of the Chief Justices/Judges of the Superior Courts in the administration of justice”.

Earlier this week, the Justice Isa-led commission announced that the proceedings of its inquiry will be made public as it held its first hearing on Monday in courtroom number 7 of the Supreme Court.