Pakistan’s judges meddling case: PM responsible for agencies’ work – SC


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that intelligence agencies are working under the prime minister and the premier is responsible for all the work of agencies.

A six-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, heard the suo motu case taken on the letter of six judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC), alleging interference of intelligence agencies in judicial affairs.

Other members of the larger bench are Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Musarat Hilali and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afgan.

The court, after hearing the matter for more than three hours, telecast live on its YouTube channel, sought a reply from the federal government over the proposals of high court judges, which have been submitted by the five high courts of the country.

The court directed Attorney General Mansoor Usman Awan to submit his response on behalf of the federal government on the matter.

The court held that the relevant intelligence agency could also submit its response through the office of the attorney general regarding the allegations levelled by the judges in the letter before May 7 and adjourned further hearing.

On March 25, six IHC judges — Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz — wrote to Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa being the chairman of Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), outlining instances of such alleged interferences and intimidation by intelligence officials.

The court further held that no one would be made a party in the case, it would be appropriate and useful that all the applicants who filed applications to be a party should jointly file with the Pakistan Bar Council and Supreme Court Bar Association and submit the recommendations, proposals, etc. If consensus is not possible, the petitioners can also submit the submissions separately, the court noted down in its order.

The CJP observed that there is political division among lawyers and bars but independence of judiciary should be a common goal and objective, good intentions would be welcomed but no one would be made a party. He said they would ensure independence of judiciary.

At the start of the hearing, he clarified that prior to the last hearing, the committee for constitution of benches had decided that all available judges in Islamabad should immediately convene. He observed that no pick and choose was adopted, adding that whoever was available was put together. Justice Isa further said that Justice Yahya Afridi had recused himself.

Referring to the last hearing of the matter, the CJP said that he had hinted at constituting a full court to hear the matter, however, it could not be as two of the apex court judges were not available.

During the course of hearing, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah observed that the whole case is about the independence of judiciary, adding that now this is an opportunity to the court to settle the issue once and for all. There should be no interference in the judicial affairs either from outside or inside and a firewall has to be built for obstructing such interferences, he remarked.

He further observed that high courts had the jurisdiction to settle the matter but they did not and now the matter has landed in the apex court. “We need to sit down and clear everything,” Justice Mansoor said, adding that a system needs to be in place so that it should not happen in future.

Justice Naeem Akhtar Afgan asked the AG to tell the court on the next date of hearing as to under which law the three agencies, the ISI, MI and IB, have been established, what is the work of these agencies.

Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail asked the AG to also tell the court that if any agency official encroaches on someone’s authority, what is the procedure and law of action against them. “If he encroaches on it, is it his personal or institutional act?” Justice Mandokhail further inquired from the AG.

Justice Minallah remarked that the only issue in this matter is how to ensure the independence of the judiciary so that the administration and intelligence agencies cannot intimidate the judiciary and end the culture of interference.

Chief Justice Isa suggested for proper legislation in this regard, adding that if you really want a solution to this problem, start with legislation, there will be good and bad people in every institution. “We want to make parliament strong and if is not strong, then other forces will become stronger,” the CJP further remarked.

“Even pressure is built on bureaucracy and someone gets pressure and those resorted to refuse are made officials on special duty,” the CJP remarked, adding: “Selective accountability is the worst accountability, if we only want to blame then we will have no future.”

Justice Athar Minallah, however, observed that there is no need for legislation, adding that the agencies are under the prime minister and prime minister is responsible for all the work of the agencies.

The chief justice recalled that when he was the chief justice of Balochistan High Court for more than five years, the biggest threat was from the Supreme Court of Pakistan. “It should not be taken into the perspective of 76 years of judicial history, if something goes wrong, call it wrong,” the CJP added.

At the same time, Justice Minallah observed that he had also served as the chief justice of Islamabad High Court for four years, during which there was no interference.

Similarly, Justice Mansoor also said that no one had interfered in his judicial affairs till date.

“It means that interference in the judiciary depends on the personality of a judge”, Justice Mandokhail interrupted.

Justice Mansoor observed that the Lahore High Court judges said that interference in the judiciary is an open secret and now they are looking towards the Supreme Court.

Justice Isa said that after becoming the chief justice, not a single complaint has come to him or his registrar office, adding that we are reviewing the past complaints, we have to move forward, we will not allow manipulation for any political force or any particular agency.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah observed that high courts had the power of contempt but it did not use it giving examples of Iftikhar Chaudhry’s case, Benazir Bhutto’s case as well as the sit-in case.

“Don’t sit here in this room or somewhere, someone will be watching, and don’t say anything, someone will hear it. The big brother is seeing all the things. What culture is this?” Justice Mansoor remarked.

Justice Minallah observed that this has been happening for 76 years, adding that it may be our internal weakness, judges are afraid to report such incidents, personal data of a high court judge was spread on social media, his appointment on everything, including Green Card.

The judge continued that earlier there was a detailed discussion in the Judicial Commission, we have to fix the internal affairs, the smear campaign that was launched in 2018, data of judges’ families was stolen from government agencies including Nadra and immigration, even it was discussed that where the judges’ children study.

Justice Mansoor said that not every judge stands up, we have to make a system, the civil judge should also know that with the whole system, he will stand like a tiger.

The CJP observed that they were expelled from the benches by the Supreme Court, adding that what happened in the Supreme Court did not happen in world history. He said the government should have done legislation keeping the Faizabad Dharna in view.

“Whether I could not head the commission on Faizabad Dharna. Whether the world did not know who was running Pakistan at that time,” the CJP remarked, adding that he did not do that as the finger could be pointed at him.

Justice Isa said he wrote that Faiz Hameed was behind it. The CJP said his wife in her written application mentioned the name of Faiz Hameed. “We had left it to the government, so why is the government unable to legislate, when parliament becomes strong, then the rest of the institutions will be strong,” the CJP remarked.

Earlier, during the hearing, Justice Isa asked the attorney general whether he had read the recommendations of the IHC judges. “I have not yet,” the AG replied.

Justice Athar Minallah remarked that these are not recommendations but a charge sheet as well.

The chief justice then asked the AG to read out the proposals submitted by high courts and the AG read out wherein it was submitted that the Supreme Court’s order of suo motu case has been viewed with appreciation.

It was submitted in the proposals that the powers of the executive and agencies, and their division should be taken into consideration, adding that there is no division among the judges. Impression was given on social media and the media that judges are divided, and that the division needs to be removed, code conduct for high court and district court judges needs to be modified.

The proposals further recommended that said that agencies or individuals involved in phone tapping or video recording of judges or their families should be identified and prosecuted in accordance with the law.

It was proposed that if the state or agencies interfere in the judicial affairs or blackmails a judge, the judge should initiate contempt of court proceedings, adding that if the district and sessions judges themselves do not conduct the contempt of court proceedings, then it should be reported to the high court. The high court should form a bench of five judges and decide, and if a judge of the high court reports, it should be brought to the notice of Chief Justice of Pakistan.

Justice Mansoor observed that there are no proposals from the district judiciary of Balochistan.

At this, Justice Afgan observed that there is no interference in Balochistan, adding that judges of Balochistan know how to repel if there is any interference. Later, the court adjourned the hearing until May 7.__The News