Home Latest News Inquiry Commission to Probe Alleged Interference of Spy Agencies in Judicial Matters

Inquiry Commission to Probe Alleged Interference of Spy Agencies in Judicial Matters

CJP Isa, P.M. Sharif agree there can be no compromise on independence of judiciary

by Staff Report
Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar and AGP Mansoor Usman Awan

Photo courtesy PID

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar on Thursday announced the government will constitute a commission led by an “impartial” judicial personality to probe allegations of ‘interference’ from spy agencies levelled by six judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

On Tuesday night, a letter addressed to the Supreme Judicial Council was leaked to the public. In the letter, six judges of the IHC alleged various instances of spy agencies’ “interference” in judicial matters and questioned if it was state policy to “intimidate” the judiciary. They also sought from the SJC guidelines for judges facing such alleged interference. Subsequently, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa called a full court meeting to deliberate on the matter and requested a meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

On Thursday, the CJP and the prime minister met to discuss the allegations levelled by the IHC judges and decided to constitute a commission to probe the allegations. “P.M. Shehbaz assured CJP Isa that no compromise will be made on the judiciary’s independence,” Tarar told a press conference after the meeting. He said the federal government has a responsibility to investigate the matter under supervision of an impartial judicial personality, which may be a retired judge with good reputation, under the Commission of Inquiry Act.

The minister, accompanied by Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan, said a decision, in principle, was taken to constitute a commission, adding the premier would take the assent of members of the federal cabinet in this regard. While Tarar initially announced the meeting would take place on Friday, it was subsequently postponed till Saturday owing to scheduling difficulties of the prime minister.

“The federal government considered the content of the judges’ letter an extremely serious matter as no one should be allowed to meddle in any institutions’ affairs, and it should be probed,” said Tarar, emphasizing the government had no intent to conceal the facts or delay the probe process. He recalled the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) had earlier been victim of such alleged interference and was committed to ending it, adding the party’s previous government had publicized the outcomes of all probes through commissions.

Apex court vows zero tolerance

In a separate statement issued after the full court meeting and his interaction with the prime minister, the CJP said that meddling by the executive in the affairs and “judicial workings of judges” will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

Noting he had received the letter penned by the six IHC judges on March 26, the statement said he had called a meeting the same day with the chief justice and all judges of the Islamabad High Court after iftar at his residence. After hearing the concerns of all judges individually, read the statement, the CJP met the AGP and law minister on March 27 and subsequently, along with senior puisne judge Mansoor Ali Shah, met the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and the senior-most member of the Pakistan Bar Council present in Islamabad.

The CJP, per the statement, then called a full court meeting of all judges of the Supreme Court at 4 p.m. on March 27, with the forum deliberating on the issues raised in the letter. “A consensus was developed amongst the majority of the members of the full court that in view of the gravity of the situation, the CJP may hold a meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan on the issues raised in the said letter and the meeting was adjourned,” it said.

Referring to their hour-and-a-half-long meeting, the statement said the CJP had “clearly stated that interference by the executive in the affairs and judicial workings of judges will not be tolerated and under no circumstances can independence of the judiciary be allowed to be compromised.” It said he and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah had stressed that independence of judiciary is a foundational pillar that upholds the rule of law and a strong democracy.

During the meeting, read the statement, it was proposed to constitute an inquiry commission under the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act, 2017, headed by a retired judge of “impeccable integrity,” to inquire into the matter. The prime minister, it confirmed, had said he would convene a meeting of the federal cabinet to seek its approval for the constitution of the said commission.

According to the statement, the prime minister fully endorsed the views expressed by CJP Isa and Justice Shah and assured them he would take other appropriate measures to ensure an independent judiciary, including issuance of directions to the relevant departments, and initiating legislation in accordance “with paragraph 53 of Suo Moto No. 7/2017 (the Faizabad Dharna judgment).”

Subsequently, the CJP again called a full court meeting and briefed the judges on what had transpired at his meeting with the prime minister, the statement concluded.

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