Audio leaks commission: Govt objects to CJP Bandial’s inclusion in bench
ISLAMABAD: The government on Friday included Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Atta Bandial in a five-member bench to hear petitions challenging the formation of a judicial commission to probe audio leaks related to the judiciary. Objected to.
Bench, the day before, was created Chief Justice Bandyal will hear the petitions filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.
Those challenging the petitions include Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, Muqtadir Akhtar Shabbir, Advocate Riyaz Hanif and Supreme Court Bar Association President Abid Shah Zuberi.
The bench is headed by Chief Justice Bandial and includes Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed.
At the start of today’s hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan asked Chief Justice Bandial to apologise, inviting a strong reaction from the Chief Justice.
AGP Awan said, “It is requested that the Chief Justice not be part of this bench.”
Responding to the AGP, Chief Justice Bandyal asked if he meant to leave the bench. “You must not interfere with our administrative powers.”
The Supreme Court judge added that he respects Awan’s request, adding that the post of Chief Justice is constitutional.
“I knew you would raise this objection. Judiciary is not subordinate to the government. He said that there is separation of powers in the constitution.
Judiciary is the guardian of fundamental human rights. We have full respect for the government, the Chief Justice said while addressing Awan.
The country’s top judge also lamented the government’s “hasty” decision to legislate to regulate the chief justice’s powers.
Chief Justice Bandyal asked the AGP how the government could use judges for its own purposes.
Chief Justice Bandyal also questioned the formation of the judicial panel without his consultation. He said that the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1956 does not mention consultation with the Chief Justice, it is a “process” for the Chief Justice to nominate a judge for the commission.
Three such notifications were earlier withdrawn when the Chief Justice was not contacted. There are five decisions of the Supreme Court in this regard, said the Chief Justice.
The Chief Justice asked the AGP to advise the government to act in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution.
Responding to the Chief Justice’s remarks, Awan said, “The Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 2017 does not call for consultation.”
On this, the Chief Justice remarked that an attempt is being made to create a rift among the judges. “The government also included bail and family matters in the commission.”
“This matter can be resolved,” the AGP said.
The Chief Justice replied to Awan and said that first resolve the matter and then the court will help him.
The top judge also warned the government against interfering in Supreme Court matters.
“Dear Attorney General, we respect you and your client – the government. Respect the institutions, including the judiciary.
He added that the events of May 9 helped stop the rhetoric against the judiciary. The federal government solves the issues according to the constitution, so why do we object?
“If [you want to] Fight, then the Attorney General should have come prepared,” he advised the Attorney General.
Shoaib Shaheen, lawyer of Zubiri, said that phone tapping is an illegal act. The inquiry commission’s code did not say who tapped the phone.
Shaheen said that the government is giving the impression that phone tapping is legal.
“The government should admit that one of our agencies did the phone tapping,” he added.
The Chief Justice remarked that there is a case of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s government regarding phone tapping.
Rules have also been laid down in Justice Qazi Faiz Isa’s case. Who will determine which judge violated the code of conduct? asked the Chief Justice
Shaheen said that the authority under Article 209 belongs to the Supreme Judicial Council. He said that the authority of the Judicial Council was given to the Inquiry Commission.
Meanwhile, Justice Akhtar remarked that it is illegal to tap phone conversations. It is also against human dignity under Article 14. There is also a question of independence of the judiciary in this matter.
Justice Akhtar also said that the government has tried to influence the power sharing structure. He questioned how the government could go against serving judges.
How can inquiry commission determine the conduct of judges? he asked.
Chief Justice Bandyal said that the government seems to have done everything in haste.
Justice Akhtar said that a senior judge has been given the task of reviewing the conduct of judges.
“Proceedings cannot be taken in the Supreme Judicial Council on the basis of the commission of inquiry,” the AGP said, clarifying that it is an independent forum.
Justice Akhtar remarked that the government has apparently affected the constitutional structure of separation of powers.
Chief Justice Bandyal questioned the role of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) when television channels aired the alleged audio.
Justice Akhtar said that the cabinet minister continued to hold press conferences on the alleged audios.
AGP Awan said that he would present his arguments regarding the distribution of powers, as this was the first hearing of the matter.
Justice Akhtar commented that “the government has no right to inquire of the judge whether he has committed misconduct or not”.
The court then adjourned the petitions for the day and the bench announced that it would pass a brief order later.
Composition of the Commission
Under Section 3 of the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act, 2017, the government on May 20 issued a High Power Judicial Commission Headed by Senior Supreme Court Judge Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, Chief Justice of Balochistan High Court Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Aamir Farooq as members – to investigate audio leaks related to former and current members of the judiciary. Took The commission has been tasked to complete the inquiry within 30 days.
In several audio leaks, the commission is probing alleged calls between former Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and a sitting judge of the Supreme Court, as well as another call between CM Elahi and a Supreme Court lawyer. Supreme Court Bench.
Subsequently, the PTI chief questioned the government for “deliberate omission” of the Terms of Reference (TORs) and challenged the formation of a three-member judicial commission on audio leaks.
Khan’s lawyer and party leader was Babar Awan. Application filed On his behalf, the court was requested to declare the notification of formation of the commission null and void.
Similarly, Zuberi had also challenged the summoning of the Audio Leaks Commission, directing it to appear before the panel in connection with the inquiry.
Prime Minister Nazir Tarar had earlier said that the government did not consult Chief Justice Bandyal before forming the commission.
The judicial panel was constituted in the wake of the widely circulated controversial audio leaks that “raised serious concerns about the independence, impartiality and integrity of the Chief Justices/Judges of the High Courts in the administration of justice”.
Meanwhile, the commission has also summoned four persons related to the alleged audios today, including Zubari, advocate Khawaja Tariq Rahim, journalist Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui and Najam Saqib, son of former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar.
Earlier this week, the commission headed by Justice Isa announced that its inquiry proceedings would be made public as it held its first hearing in Courtroom No. 7 of the Supreme Court on Monday earlier this week.