Commission to probe ‘letter controversy’ after PM-CJP meeting

In Local
March 28, 2024

Federal Minister for Law Azam Nazeer Tarar on Thursday announced the formation of an inquiry commission following startling revelations made by six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges about the interference of intelligence agencies in judicial matters.

He was addressing a press conference along with Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan in Islamabad following a meeting between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa at the Supreme Court. Both Tarar and Awan were also present during the meeting.

Tarar stated that all constitutional institutions must operate within their bounds. “Any interference from any institution is unacceptable. Hence, the decision to establish a commission under the Inquiry Act has been made,” he announced.

Read more: Experts stress need for investigation following IHC judges’ letter

Talking about the meeting between the PM and CJP, he said that both underscored the gravity of the situation, recognising its significance.

The law minister said that the meeting between the prime minister and the CJP lasted approximately one and a half hours, during which crucial matters, including judges’ issue, were discussed.

He emphasised that there will be no compromise on the independence of the judiciary. “It is the government’s duty to investigate this matter thoroughly, which is why it has decided to conduct an inquiry into the issue. This matter will also be presented before the cabinet tomorrow, followed by the formation of a commission for investigation, with TORs to be finalised after cabinet consultation,” he added.

He mentioned that several judges’ names were under consideration to investigate the matter, adding that the CJP also agreed to form the investigative commission. “A retired judge will be requested to conduct the inquiry into this matter,” he said.

Also read: Ex-spymaster rejects IHC judge’s claims

The minister clarified that the letter from the judges did not create any constitutional crisis. “Considering the seriousness of the matter, the CJP took immediate action. It would have been preferable if such discussions had taken place 13 months ago. When such issues arise, they should be resolved through transparent and logical means instead of sweeping them under the rug,” he added,

He stated that the sacrifices made by the Pakistan armed forces should also be acknowledged. “Their sacrifices should never be overlooked. All institutions should respect each other.”

Tarar further said that the prime minister will discuss the matter with the cabinet tomorrow, adding that he will also take input from spy agencies as well.

On Wednesday, the SC held a full-court meeting to discuss the contents of the IHC judges’ letter written to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on Tuesday.

Six of the eight IHC judges accused intelligence agencies of using coercive tactics to influence court proceedings.

The judges penned this open letter days after a Supreme Court bench led by Justice Isa set aside an SJC notification that resulted in the dismissal of IHC former senior puisne judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.

A meeting was also held between the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP), Mansoor Awan, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar and CJP Isa. The judicial trio discussed the letter by the six IHC judges. Throwing its weight behind the judges, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) reiterated its “unwavering support for the judiciary as an institution and for the Honorable Judges of the Islamabad High Court”.

The apex body of jurists underscored the gravity of the allegations, emphasising the need for decisive action from the judiciary. The SCBAP not only condemned the alleged interference but also stated that it “requires serious actions by the judiciary as an institution”.

It is learnt that both the officials expressed concern about the timing of the letter, noting that the incidents mentioned in the letter took place last year.

Bar associations across the country rallied behind the judges, sounding the alarm over the alleged threat to judicial independence amid fears that recent court rulings, handed down in the charged political climate, were thrust into doubts.

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