Home Latest News PPP, PMLN, JUIF Seek Recusal of Justices Ahsan, Naqvi from Suo Motu Bench

PPP, PMLN, JUIF Seek Recusal of Justices Ahsan, Naqvi from Suo Motu Bench

In joint note, ruling coalition parties say recusal necessary in interest of ‘justice, fair play, and to protect fundamental right to fair trial’

by Staff Report

Farooq Naeem—AFP

Three major parties of the ruling coalition—the Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl)—on Friday asked Supreme Court Justices Ijazul Ahsan and Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi to recuse themselves from a larger bench hearing suo motu proceedings on a delay in announcing a date for elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

In a joint note, submitted by lawyers Farooq H. Naek of the PPP; Kamran Murtaza of the JUIF; and Mansoor Usman Awan of the PMLN, the parties noted that both Ahsan and Naqvi had already “disclosed their mind” on the ongoing case. Their prejudged views, along with a note of Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, it said, had convinced the leadership of all three parties that both judges should abstain from proceedings in the “interest of justice, fair play, and to protect the fundamental right to fair trial and due process as guaranteed under Article 10A of the Constitution.”

Additionally, the note submitted, both judges should recuse themselves from hearing any matter pertaining to either of the three parties and their leadership.

At the commencement of hearings into the suo motu on Thursday, Justice Mandokhail had questioned the validity of the suo motu in this case and also raised reservations over the inclusion of Justices Ahsan and Naqvi to the bench, noting that they had already given their opinions when they requested the CJP to take up the matter.

Today’s hearing

During proceedings, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial—who is heading the nine-member bench—said the case would formally begin on Monday. At this point, Naek read out the joint note and reiterated that both judges should recuse themselves from this bench.

To this, Justice Athar Minallah said he believed the issue pertained to Article 184(3) of the Constitution—empowering the apex court to intervene in matters involved in the enforcement of fundamental rights—and questioned why it should be heard by a full court. Naek responded that he also believed that the case should be heard by a full-court bench.

Deferring the matter, CJP Bandial said the court would first discuss the admissibility of the request.

Continuing the proceedings, Advocate Azhar Siddique—representing Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed—demanded the court take notice of the language being used against the judiciary. Referring to a PMLN rally from a day earlier, he claimed “derogatory remarks” were voiced about the judiciary in the public gathering. To this, Justice Mandokhail said political matters must be settled in Parliament. “Go to your parties … why should the court hear this matter?” he questioned.

Naek said he would seek direction from his client on the matter, while reiterating his request that the court first hear the government’s objection on the bench. Justice Bandial, however, said that in normal circumstances, citizens knocked on the door of the court. “But today, the Constitution of Pakistan has knocked on our doorstep,” he said, adding that it would be decided on Monday whether a full-court bench should be formed to hear the case.

“The court will also hear the objection raised against the two judges on Monday,” he said, adjourning the hearing until Monday at 11:30 a.m.

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