ISLAMABAD: Hearing a petition asking for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate an alleged audio clip of former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah Monday asked if the audio was correct, where the original clip was, Geo TV and other media outlets reported.
Having such an investigation could lead to anyone bringing an audio clip [to court] tomorrow and asking it be investigated, the IHC CJ said. The petition had been filed in the IHC by Sindh High Court Bar President Salahuddin Ahmed and Syed Hyder Imam Rizvi, a member of the Judicial Commission.
At the start of the hearing, Justice Minallah asked the petitioner to state how the petition was admissible. "Against whom was the writ filed? Your application is related to the audio clip of the present service CJP," he said.
On the judicial inquiry, the petitioner responded that the petition was not about the present CJP but about the audio clip of a former CJP. “We will first issue a pre-admission notice to the attorney-general and talk about whether this application is admissible,” the IHC CJ said.
During the case hearing on Monday, Justice Minallah said that the court will not
engage in judicial activism and will only consider the facts as they appear in light of the law. "The court wants to ensure that this does not open new floodgates," he added.
Justice Minallah stated that while the judiciary has faced significant challenges and the Bar has fought for the judiciary’s independence, we now live in a society where social media is unregulated, to which the petitioner said that it is painful that the audio was leaked and is being discussed on social media too.
He further observed that the alleged audio clip was related to the pending appeals and the petitioners seemed not interested in bringing the matter to the court. He said that various political entities issue different statements but they don’t come to the court.
Justice Minallah remarked that the court "cannot play into the hands of" those who did this all rather than approach the court themselves. "When they do not approach the court, the court also has to see what their intentions are," he added. "Who released the audiotape and to whom?"
Questioning the maintainability of the plea, the judge remarked: "It is said about me that I have bought some flat. Should we start an inquiry into that as well?" Upon this, Ahmed argued the problem was that the "real affected parties" did not come forward.
To this, Justice Minallah replied: "Suppose this audio is legitimate, where is the real clip?" In response to the pre-admission notice, Advocate Salahuddin Ahmed stated that the Pakistan Bar Council has approved a decision, and that if the court finds it necessary, it should also send a notice to the bar council.
To this, Justice Minallah replied that the court respects him for the rule of law, "You are upset with some audio clips. Who has the authority to record Chief Justice Pakistan's audio tapes?" he asked.
"Did they [Bar Council] released it [audio tape] or did a man sitting in the United States?" asked the court. The court stated that the alleged audiotape is related to a matter that is currently under appeal, and that the parties involved in the audiotape case have shown no interest in bringing it [the case] before the court.
The court subsequently issued a notice to Attorney General (AG) Khalid Jawed Khan to argue on the maintainability of the petition and adjourned the hearing till December 8. The original audio released by FactFocus carried the following alleged audio of Saqib Nisar, making damning statements on how Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were jailed in 2018:
“Saqib Nisar: Let me be a little blunt about it; unfortunately, here it is the ‘institutions’ who dictate judgments. In this case, we will have to penalize Mian Sahib. And ‘they’ say, “we shall bring Khan Sahib.” Regardless of the merit, we will have to do it, and even to his daughter.
“Other person: But, in my view, his daughter doesn’t merit a sentence. “Saqib Nisar: You are absolutely correct. I did talk to “friends” that something should be done about this but they did not agree. There will be no independence of the judiciary, so let it be...”.