SC may issue guidelines to judges

In Local
April 04, 2024


The Supreme Court, though yet to issue a written decree, appears keen on laying down guidelines for the superior court judges encountering interference or intimidation from agencies during their judicial duties.

Senior puisne judge Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah stressed the importance of establishing a code of conduct for superior court judges, a view endorsed by Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Athar Minallah.

However, CJP Qazi Faez Isa has maintained a conspicuous silence on the matter. His sole focus appears to be clarifying his approach to six IHC judges. He has also elucidated on the steps he has taken since March 25.

Furthermore, CJP Isa noted that the judges of the IHC could have pursued contempt notices against the alleged interference or intimidation by agencies.

Despite former CJP Tassaduq Hussain Jillani questioning the legality of the inquiry commission, CJP Isa points towards social media pressure likely being the tipping point for his recusal.

Taking on such a suo motu case is no walk in the park for the executive, but Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Awan remained confident throughout the hearing. His confidence was palpable as he made his case with vigor before the bench.

The amicable relationship between CJP Isa and the current executive likely bolsters government confidence in this sensitive matter.

It appears that CJP Isa was well-prepared to handle the tough case, especially with other judges backing the letter from six IHC judges.

CJP Isa took the lion’s share of speaking time, calmly laying out his position. While he remained relaxed, other judges, in particular, seemed on edge throughout the hearing.

The federal government should count its lucky stars for dealing with a chief justice who isn’t playing hardball. He has made it crystal clear that there will be no stepping on the toes of executive functionaries.

Similarly, CJP Isa has also emphasised that the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) is the pertinent body to tackle this issue – a stance that has ruffled feathers among the Professional Lawyers Group, who are miffed that CJP Isa is favouring bars where the Independent Group holds sway.

A senior government official also believes that providing guidelines to the high courts and establishing a reporting mechanism, as advocated by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, along with anything achievable through a code of conduct, is something everyone will agree on.

The official added that if the judges wish to investigate these allegations, a sitting Supreme Court judge could chair the commission.

“It is up to the court now to see who should head the commission. Government is not going to appoint anyone on its own,” he added.

Former additional attorney general Waqar Rana stated that every individual expects the court to uphold its constitutional duty of safeguarding the rule of law and ensuring access to justice.

“The Supreme Court is at the apex of the judicial system of Pakistan and thus it is empowered to ensure independence of the judiciary. The Chief Justice and four judges of the Supreme Court are part of the judicial commission and thus it is duty-bound to protect judicial freedom. It is a defining moment in our history,” Waqar said.

Tariq Bashir, an advocate, pointed out that the crux of the matter was uncertainty about the next steps, saying that they are banking on petitioners such as Aitzaz and Hamid Khan to provide suggestions.

There’s a possibility that they may proceed with a commission, but only if all parties involved give their consent, he added.

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