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Wednesday April 17, 2024

Over 300 lawyers urge SC to constitute bench on IHC judges’ letter under Article 184(3)

Lawyers commend IHC judges "courageous action" to write a letter on spy agencies alleged interference

By Awais Yousufzai
March 31, 2024
A policeman walks past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad Pakistan. — AFP/File
A policeman walks past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad Pakistan. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: A day after the federal government constituted an inquiry commission led by a former top judge to probe alleged interference in judicial matters, over 300 lawyers on Sunday called upon the apex court to take notice of the matter under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

On Tuesday, the IHC judges — Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, and Justice Saman Fafat Imtiaz — wrote the letter to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), urging it to convene a judicial convention over the alleged interference of intelligence agencies in judicial affairs.

Subsequently, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday held a meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and it was decided to constitute an inquiry commission headed by a retired judge of “impeccable integrity” to inquire into the matter, as per official statement.

The letter came a day after the federal cabinet approved the constitution of an inquiry commission led by former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Tassaduq Hussain Jillani to probe the allegations of meddling by intelligence agencies in the courts’ matter.

“We endorse the resolutions passed by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association, the Islamabad Bar Association, the Sindh High Court Bar Association, the Pakistan Bar Council, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council and the Balochistan Bar Council to the extent that they resolve to uphold the principle of independence of judiciary, express solidarity with the six Judges of the Islamabad High Court, commend their courageous action and demand appropriate action to uphold such principles,” the lawyers in a statement issued today.

The joint statement bears the signatures of Advocates Salman Akram Raja, Imaan Mazari, Abdul Moiz Jaferri, a son of the inquiry commission head, Zainab Janjua among others.

The statement highlighted that former IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui also raised similar allegations and was consequently, unceremoniously removed from office, without following due process.

“The allegations leveled by the aforesaid are also yet to be proven or disproven through an impartial inquiry into the matter as requested by him.”

It also urged the Pakistan Bar Council as well as all bar associations to call a convention of lawyers across Pakistan on an urgent basis to decide on a collective course of action to strengthen the independence of judiciary.

“We further call upon the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take cognisance of the matter in its jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution as this issue eminently relates to public interest and to the enforcement of fundamental rights,” the statement added.

The lawyers emphasised that the matter should be dealt with transparently and in the public eye as it is the public confidence in the independence of judiciary which needs to be restored.

In the interests of transparency and to ensure that the matter may not be politicised, the joint statement called upon the apex court to constitute a bench comprising of all available judges to hear the matter and for the proceedings to be telecast live for public consumption.