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Sunday, April 14, 2024  
05 Shawwal 1445  

Over 300 lawyers demand SC take suo motu on judicial meddling claims

It is not first time such allegations have been raised, says letter

Over 300 lawyers have demanded the Supreme Court take suo motu notice of allegations of executive and intelligence agencies’ interference in the judiciary.

“We further call upon the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take cognizance of the matter in its jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution as this issue eminently relates to public interest and to the enforcement of fundamental rights,” they said in a statement.

Article 184(3) of the Constitution sets out the SC’s original jurisdiction and enables it to assume jurisdiction in matters involving a question of “public importance” concerning the “enforcement of any of the fundamental rights” of Pakistan’s citizens.

The development comes after six Islamabad High Court judges — out of a total strength of eight — wrote a letter to the Supreme Judicial Council members, raising the matter of alleged attempts to pressure judges through abduction and torture of their relatives as well as secret surveillance inside their homes.

The letter was signed by judges Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Babar Sattar, Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Arbab Muhammad Tahir and Saman Rafat Imtiaz.

The federal government has formed a one-member inquiry committee to probe the judicial meddling claims. Former chief justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani would lead the committee.

It will also investigate if any official was directly involved in judicial interference and suggest action against any agency, department or state institution based on the facts unearthed.

In a statement issued by the Supreme Court on Thursday, CJP Qazi Faez Isa said that interference by the executive in the affairs and judicial workings of judges will not be tolerated.

The PTI has rejected the commission and decided to challenge Jillani’s appointment. Party’s Sher Afzal Marwat described the former CJP as a “misfit”. The former ruling party has also demanded CJP Isa and IHC CJ Aamer Farooq resign from their posts.

The full statement was also shared on the social media platform X by Imaan Mazari Hazir and Zainab Janjua.

It said that all those who had signed had issued the statement to “express our unwavering commitment and wholehearted support to the principles of rule of law, independence of judiciary and access to justice” in light of the allegations made by the IHC judges.

“We endorse the resolutions passed by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association, the Islamabad Bar Association, the Sindh High Court Bar Association, the Pakistan Bar Council, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council and the Balochistan Bar Council to the extent that they resolve to uphold the principle of independence of judiciary, express solidarity with the six judges of the IHC, commend their courageous action and demand appropriate action to uphold such principles,” it said.

The statement noted that it was not the first time that such allegations had been raised. It added that Justice (retired) Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had raised “similar allegations and was consequently, unceremoniously removed from office, without following due process”.

“Accordingly, any inquiry into the matter undertaken under the purview of the federal government violates the very principles that the inquiry seeks to protect and uphold. We note that any such inquiry commission and its proceedings would be entirely wanting in credibility,” it said.

The statement urged the SJC to “lay down guidelines” and for the SC, in coordination with all the high courts, to set up “transparent institutional mechanisms so that any attempt at undermining the independence of judiciary may be reported and dealt with effectively and transparently, so that no one may cast any aspersions on the independence of the judiciary in the future”.

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