Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday accused two Supreme Court judges—Justices Ijazul Ahsan and Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi—of being biased against the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), adding that the party’s legal team will seek their recusal from benches hearing cases of party leaders.
In a series of posts on Twitter, the president of PMLN’s Punjab chapter noted that Justice Ijazul Ahsan was the “supervising judge” in the case against party leader Nawaz Sharif and “justice” was not expected from him. “Irrefutable evidence in the form of an audio leak has come forward against Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi,” he said, adding that this had raised a question over his impartiality.
Noting that both judges had given several adverse judgments against Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif—including the Panama Papers, party leadership, Pakpattan allotment, and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases—he stressed that it was a “legal and judicial tradition” for judges to voluntarily recuse themselves from hearing cases where their partiality was in question.
Additionally, he said, there was also a tradition of removing controversial judges from benches on the request of an aggrieved party. “The legal team of the PMLN will ask the two judges to recuse themselves from benches hearing the cases of Nawaz Sharif and other leaders of the party,” he said, adding that both judges would be asked to not hear any cases concerning the PMLN.
Justice Naqvi is also facing judicial references from bar councils over a leaked audio in which he can be allegedly heard conversing with former Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi. The audio was leaked on social media the day after he—along with Justice Ahsan—re-instated Ghulam Mehmood Dogar as the capital city police officer of Lahore after he had been transferred by the caretaker government of Punjab.
In recent days, the PMLN has ramped up its criticism of the “dual standards” of the judiciary, pointing to the “preferential” treatment accorded to PTI chief Imran Khan—who repeatedly refused to respond to court summons without any penalties—compared to its own leaders. On Tuesday, the PMLN’s view was seemingly validated when an accountability court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi when he was merely late to a hearing. Those warrants were subsequently withdrawn.