Big Pandora box opens after six judges of IHC throws a bombshell on the system — interesting turn of events to be unfolded

Big Pandora box opens after six judges of IHC throws a bombshell on the system -- interesting turn of events to be unfolded

By Irum Saleem

    The allegations of six judges of Islamabad High Court has opened Pandora box and it will be seen whether justice is done in this case.

    Calls have started emerging from various quarters for a thorough probe into allegations made by the judges against interference in judicial affairs by the country’s intelligence apparatus.

    Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa summoned a full court meeting of the apex court’s judges.

   On Tuesday, six IHC judges — out of a total strength of eight — wrote a startling letter to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) members, regarding attempts to pressure judges through abduction and torture of their relatives as well as secret surveillance inside their homes.

   The letter addressed to SJC members — CJP Isa, Supreme Court Justices Mansoor Ali Shah and Munib Akhtar and IHC CJ Aamer Farooq and Peshawar High Court CJ Mohammad Ibrahim Khan — also questioned if there existed a state policy to “intimidate and coerce judges”.

   The six judges also supported the demand of former IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui for a probe into the allegations of interference by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) operatives.

   Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) said that the allegations required “serious actions by the judiciary as an institution”.

    SCBA President Shahzad Shaukat took “serious exception to the undue interference” claimed by the judges.

   “Such issues should be addressed in a befitting manners and any apprehensions/ misgivings which might be in the minds of honorable judges should be adequately addressed.”

    It declared “unequivocally that bar associations, particularly the SCBA, will not tolerate any incidents aimed at undermining the independence, integrity, authority and functioning of judicial institutions”.

   In an open letter, SCBA Additional Secretary Sardar Shahbaz Ali Khosa urged CJP Isa to take suo motu notice of the matter under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and conduct a “thorough and transparent (live) hearing” of the case.

    He also highlighted a “recent crackdown on journalists and media outlets who have reported on these alleged interferences” and urged CJP Isa to summon prominent journalists across Pakistan to detail the “extent of interference and coercion that the free press is being meted to on an everyday basis”.

    The SCBA further called for a meeting of the SJC to be convened on the issue and “not only ascertain the way forward but also fix responsibilities”.

   The IHC Bar Association (IHCBA) demanded the CJP hold a “transparent inquiry” into the matter and that legal action be taken against those involved. In a press release, the association said its cabinet held an emergency meeting. The lawyers’ body “strongly condemned the interference of one institution into the matters of another institution”.

     The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) demanded “immediate action against those intelligence agencies and personnel involved in such nefarious activities and [that] they be punished for undermining and subverting of the Constitution and the law”.

    It demanded “immediate action by the SJC against those judges who cooperate with such intelligence agencies, thus playing havoc with the administration of justice”.

   Condemning the alleged interference in the “strongest terms”, the LHCBA said it was a “serious threat to the rule of law and independence of judiciary”.

    The PTI has called for thorough probe into the matter. This is the alarming state of affairs of the higher judiciary and called for an impartial inquiry into the matter.

   “This letter with its two annexures, brings on the record the brazen and shameful interference of the intelligence agencies in judicial matters, which is a damning indictment against the independence of the judiciary in the country,” the PTI said.

   “The fact that the judges have been intimidated and coerced into giving judgments based on political expediency raises a lot of questions on the fairness of the courts and their judgments over the last two years,” it added.

   It said the letter also questioned the “credibility of the state narrative with results to May 9, an event instigated within the IHC when Chairman PTI Imran Khan was abducted and dragged from the court premises by paramilitary forces, who stormed the building of the IHC”.

   Highlighting that a “wave of political victimisation has been unleashed” against the party, the PTI said that “courts have been unable to assert their authority or dispense justice”.

    The PTI emphasised that as the IHC and its lower courts were where most of the cases against Imran were sub judice, “the fact that this court is under influence and pressure raises serious doubts on these cases as well”.

   PTI MNA Gohar Ali Khan called for ensuring the safety of the judges who had written the letter as well as their families. Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, he demanded that an inquiry be conducted by a judicial commission. PAK DESTINY

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