A five-member bench led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial reserved judgement over government’s objections on the bench hearing petitions the audio leaks inquiry commission on Tuesday.
The bench includes Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Hassan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed. The petitions have been filed by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, President SC Bar Association Abid Zuberi and others.
The government had objected over the inclusion of chief jusstice, Justice Ijaz and Justice Muneeb.
Notices had been issued to the attorney general as well as other parties in the case. The commission has already filed its reply through its secretary.
The government has already objected to the inclusion of Jutice Ijaz and Justice Muneeb in the bench.
In the last proceeding, the bench had stopped the commission, led by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, from working.
“Commission made without consulting CJ”
Attorney General Mansoor Awan began by reading out the order of the previous hearing but Justice Bandial told him he was ‘missing something’.
Justice Bandial said that the post of chief justice was a constitutional office and could not simply be delegated to anyone else.
“The chief justice was available but was not told about the commission,” he remarked. He then asked the attorney general to present his arguments on this point.
AG raises question over who should be in the bench
As the Chief Justice grilled him about why the commission had come into being without his knowledge and told him to ‘study the law’, Attorney General Masoor Awan said he would begin by presenting his arguments against the constitutions of the bench.
“So you are going to talk about the point that three judges in this bench are controversial?” he said.
The chief justice then said that the attorney general should focus on the more important issue of the judiciary’s freedom.
The attorney general replied that one of the audios involved the mother-in-law of the chief justice.
To this, the CJP remarked that ‘an amazing piece of justice’ had been dealt to the court.
Justice Muneeb Akhtar remarked that this would make removal of judges from any bench very easy.
“If you want to get a judge of the case, just put out an audio in his name,” Justice Muneeb said.
The judge added that asking judges to be removed from benches could only be done on the basis of legal reasoning.
“The option does not exist to let let anyone come to the court and ask the judge not to hear this or that case.”
The government has also objected to the inclusion of Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan in other cases that the government is concerned with.
“Who is recording audios?”
During the hearing, Justice Muneeb asked the attorney general if the government had tried to ascertain who was behind the audio leaks.
“Does the government know if the audios are authentic or not?” Justice Muneeb asked.
He added that senior cabinet members including the interior minister had already conducted press conferences on audio leaks. He said that that the audios had even been played in the press conference.
The attorney general replied that the statement of one minister could not be considered the opinion of the entire government.
“We have established the commissino to ascertain the facts,” Mansoor Awan said.
’The question is, who has planted these audios?“ the chief justice remarked. “Has the government tried to find out who is behind this?”
The attorney general replied that this matter would come under consideration in the commission.