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Wednesday April 17, 2024

IHC judges' allegations: Supreme Court takes suo motu notice

Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa to head seven-member bench

By Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui
April 01, 2024
CJP Isa-led bench to hear suo-motu case on Wednesday. — SC website
CJP Isa-led bench to hear suo-motu case on Wednesday. — SC website

ISLAMABAD: Despite the formation of a one-man commission, the Supreme Court on Monday took suo motu notice of the explosive letter written by six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges' alleging interference by intelligence agencies in judicial matters.

A seven-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa will hold the maiden hearing on the issue on Wednesday.

Apart from the CJP the bench also comprises Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Mussarat Hilali, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

The explosive letter which surfaced last week triggered a crisis and the Supreme Court led by CJP Isa has been under pressure to hear the matter under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.

Just a day earlier, over 300 lawyers belonging to different bar associations across the country lauded the judges’ and called upon the apex court to hear the matter under its suo motu jurisdictions.

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 Rafat Imtiaz — wrote the letter to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), urging the body to convene a judicial convention over the alleged interference of intelligence agencies in judicial affairs.

The development came days after the Supreme Court declared the removal of former IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui illegal, directing that he may now be considered as a retired judge.

The verdict noted that the SJC proceeded against Justice Siddiqui on the "assumption that the truth or falseness of the allegations levelled" by the former judge was "irrelevant". It also noted that the SJC opined that Justice Siddiqui had failed to substantiate, independently corroborate, substantiate or prove the allegations levelled by him.

Following the emergence of the letter, on March 27, CJP Isa chaired a full court meeting of the Supreme Court to deliberate on the matter that sought guidance from the SJC "with regard to the duty of a judge to report and respond to actions on the part of members of the executive, including operatives of intelligence agencies, that seek to interfere with the discharge of his/her official functions and qualify as intimidation".

The two-hour huddle, convened by CJP Isa, took place after bar associations of Sindh, Lahore, Islamabad and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as senior lawyers demanded a probe into the allegations.

The next day CJP Isa met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the advice of the full court in the presence of the law minister, attorney general, senior puisne judge and the registrar of the apex court.

As a result of the meeting, the government decided to constitute a commission to probe into allegations levelled by the IHC judges.

Following the huddle, the federal cabinet on March 30 approved the constitution of an inquiry commission over allegations of the IHC judges and appointed former chief justice of Pakistan Justice (retired) Tassaduq Hussain Jillani as its head.