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Monday July 15, 2024

Letter to IHC CJ: Told by top officials to back off from scrutinising audio leak, says Justice Sattar

Justice Sattar said that he was delivered messages on behalf of top officials in the security establishment

By News Desk
May 15, 2024
Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq (left) and Justice Babar Sattar. — IHC website/File
Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq (left) and Justice Babar Sattar. — IHC website/File

ISLAMABAD: Justice Babar Sattar has formally informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq about the “meddling” by the security establishment in judicial affairs, well-placed sources revealed on Tuesday.

In a “letter” to IHC CJ Farooq, Justice Sattar said that he was delivered messages on behalf of top officials in the security establishment, asking him to “back-off” from extensive scrutiny of the existence and mode of surveillance in the audio leaks case.

Giving details, Justice Sattar informed the IHC CJ that he did not pay any attention to the “threatening tactic”, said the sources. “I paid no heed to such intimidatory tactics and did not find that such messages created a risk of substantial detriment to the administering of justice.” The judge further told the CJ that the court had issued notices to intelligence and probe agencies, concerned ministries, regulatory bodies, FIA, PTA, Pemra and others. Justice Sattar was among the six judges who had written a letter to the SJC seeking its guidance on “interference” of the intelligence agencies in the court’s affairs in March. Following the development, Justice Sattar reported the “incident of meddling” in line with the IHC’s recommendations to deter meddling. In compliance with the Supreme Court’s April 3 order, the IHC judges, in a unanimous stance, proposed a “contempt proceeding” against any meddling in judicial affairs. It was also decided that the judges would inform the inspection judge about the alleged meddling and the inspection judge would bring the matter to the knowledge of the chief justice of high court concerned. “A judge who will not report the alleged meddling within seven days should be considered guilty of misconduct.” Speaking about the IHC judge’s alleged letter, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan said that an “impression is being given as if the relationship between the court and the executive is deteriorating”.

In a video statement on Tuesday, the AGP said the communication between state institutions regarding “sensitive matters is imperative in the view of security situation” that Pakistan has been facing for the last 45 years. He said such communication involving sensitive matters is liaised by the AGP or advocate general who, he said, played a role of bridge between judiciary and executive.

AGP Awan said the judge was only requested that in the audio leaks case, briefing on the matters related to surveillance should be held in-camera so it (the capabilities of security agencies) does not go into the public domain. “Unfortunately, it [request] was perceived that the case should be decided on one side, which was not the case,” he clarified. “I deny this impression; the content of the letter should be examined to know what has been termed obstruction of justice. Neither any top official from the security establishment approached the IHC judge nor can anyone do.” Addressing a news conference, Minister for Law and Justice Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar said the Attorney General of Pakistan was the representative of the State and his request for an in-camera briefing on a specific national security issue had been taken out of context. He pointed out the Attorney General had made the request just for the sake of national security. Information Minister Atta Tarar underlined the need to fully understand the sensitivity of national interest, adding that the Attorney General had already clarified his position on the issue.

He said the national security issues should be discussed at the appropriate forums. “If a matter needs discussion, the chief justice has the authority to call a full-court,” he added.

The minister expressed optimism that the institutions would collectively work for the national interests of the country.