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Saturday May 18, 2024

SC urged to form full court over claims of alleged interference in judicial matters

Multiple pleas seek apex court's guidelines to prevent such incidents in future

By Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui
April 24, 2024
A general view of the Supreme Court building in Islamabad. —APP/File
A general view of the Supreme Court building in Islamabad. —APP/File

ISLAMABAD: Multiple pleas were filed in the Supreme Court (SC) for the constitution of a full court over the allegations of interference in judicial matters by intelligence agencies.

In their petitions, Balochistan Bar Council and Balochistan High Court Bar Association have called for the annulment of the one-man commission formed by the government to probe the allegations and seek the apex court's guidelines to prevent such incidents in the future.

The lawyers' bodies have also prayed to the court to annul the one-man commission formed by the government to probe the allegations.

The development comes as a seven-member SC bench is set to resume the hearing in the suo motu case on the Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges' letter to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) complaining of interference in judicial affairs by intelligence agencies on April 29.

It is to be noted that on March 25, 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, demanded CJP 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 the independence of the judiciary.

The bench is headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprises 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 court had taken suo motu notice of the judges' letter under Article 183 (3) of the Constitution after former chief justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani recused himself from heading the one-man commission formed by the government to probe the allegations regarding intelligence interference in judicial matters.

Earlier this month, Justice Afridi, who was also part of the SC bench, recused himself from the suo motu case taken up by the top court.

Citing his reason for the recusal, the judge maintained that the matters raised in the IHC judges' letter should be viewed in accordance with the SJC's code of conduct.

During the first hearing of the case on April 3, CJP Isa remarked that the apex court will not tolerate any interference in judicial affairs and is taking the letter by Islamabad High Court judges "very seriously".

The top judge had also hinted that the suo motu case might be heard by a full court in the future.

Meanwhile, the IHC's full court meeting a day earlier "unanimously decided" to give an "institutional response" to any meddling in the court's affairs.