Experts stress need for investigation following IHC judges’ letter

In Local
March 28, 2024



KARACHI:

Experts unanimously agreed that the letter written by the six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), in which they accused intelligence agencies of alleged meddling, should be investigated.

“It is a very serious matter as six out of eight judges of IHC have accused the executive members of intrusion in judicial matters,” said Chief Editor of The Express Tribune Naveed Hussain. He highlighted the significance of the matter while speaking on Express News political talk show ‘Experts’ moderated by anchor Dua Jamil.

Hussain highlighted the gravity of the situation by noting that the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and all high court bar associations have also called for an investigation into alleged interference in judicial matters.

The chief editor stressed that interference in the judiciary has been a frequent issue. Citing historical instances, Hussain noted that even under the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, questions were raised regarding the judges of the Supreme Court.

He further said that the Supreme Court had recognised the case of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the former premier of Pakistan, as a historical mistake.

The senior journalist highlighted the manipulation of cases involving former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the case of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who also alleged interference by intelligence agencies in judicial affairs.

Hussain argued that without the rule of law, society descends into a state of lawlessness akin to the “law of the jungle” and to maintain the rule of law, a strong and independent judiciary is vital.

“With the track record of our judiciary, in the 2023 Rule of Law Index, Pakistan is ranked 130th out of 142 countries and in the entire region we are only above Afghanistan,” Hussain added.

Group Editor of Daily Express Ayaz Khan expressed concern about the tarnished reputation of the judiciary. To support his point, he cited a hearing in the State Department involving Donald Lu, during which Pakistan’s judiciary was discussed.

The group editor pointed out allegations made by the PTI regarding the chief justice of IHC. He further highlighted suspicions that PTI members raised, suggesting they feel they are not receiving justice as the IHC chief justice hears all the cases and does not delegate them to other judges.

Khan concurred with Hussain, emphasizing the gravity of the situation. He agreed that when six judges come forward with complaints and write a letter expressing that they are facing interference in their decisions, these are very serious charges and cannot be overlooked.

He also praised Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faiz Isa’s prompt response. “I believe this matter should be brought to open court,” he said and added that the judges who have made the allegations must provide evidence supporting their claims. 

If the evidence presented is credible, Khan emphasized the importance of the judiciary taking necessary corrective actions to address the concerns and maintain its integrity and credibility.

Express News Bureau Chief in Islamabad Amir Ilyas Rana also applauded the move by the CJP to take up the matter promptly. 

Rana voiced criticism of former chief justice Umar Ata Bandial, alleging that during his tenure, judges frequently wrote letters expressing concerns, yet he failed to convene a full court meeting.

The bureau chief questioned the judges of the Lahore High Court (LHC) who wrote letters to the Supreme Judicial Council. He alleged that one of the judges among them consistently granted adjournments in the cypher case involving former premier Imran Khan, while these six judges granted maximum bail to Imran Khan and his party members.

Express News Bureau Chief Karachi Faisal Husain stated that it would be better to wait for the decision of the full court. 

Faisal advocated for awaiting the decisions of the full court and expressed that following the revelations in the letter, there’s little left to discuss when a judge alleges that there was a camera in his bedroom. 

He emphasized that judges should face severe punishment if they have made false accusations and expressed concern over the current state of affairs.

“Whether the accusations are true or not, it is dangerous either way. If this matter is left without any logical conclusion, it will be the worst injustice to this country,” Faisal said.

Express News Bureau Chief in Lahore Mohammad Ilyas stated that the judiciary’s credibility has been significantly questioned following the letter.

He emphasized the importance of addressing and resolving this pressing issue. Ilyas also commended the chief justice for constituting a full bench, expressing confidence that it would help clarify the situation.

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