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Govt to form inquiry commission on IHC judges letter issue

By News Desk

March 28, 2024 05:22 PM


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The federal government Wednesday announced to form an inquiry commission in response to allegations made by six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges against interference in judicial affairs by the country’s intelligence agencies.

Addressing the media alongside Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor, Federal Minister for Law Azam Nazir Tarar said the federal government would place the letter from six IHC judges before the federal cabinet to constitute an inquiry commission.

Speaking after the meeting between PM Shehbaz Sharif and CJP Faez Essa, the law minister said the letter from the six IHC judges mentioned events “from the last year [and] with a regime which is no longer in the judicial corridors”, adding that most of the allegations in the letter concerned the “tenure of the former chief justice of Pakistan”.

He said CJP Isa had expressed a wish for the prime minister to have a talk with him on the matter and the latter had readily agreed to prioritise the issue over all others due to the seriousness of the development.

Tarar said the meeting’s participants discussed the matter, as well as other important national affairs such as tax-related issues and fiscal matters.

“There was a discussion on different aspects of the matter considering its seriousness and it was also discussed that this has not happened for the first time and such voices have been raised before in history as well,” the minister said, referring to the case of former IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.

“The prime minister point-blank said there will be no compromise on the independence of the judiciary.”

He added that the premier also reassured that it was the government’s duty to ensure an investigation into the matter and that such allegations if they were true, did not reoccur in the future.

Tarar said that foremostly, there was a need to investigate the matter and said it was decided that the government would place the judges’ letter before Friday’s federal cabinet session and the prime minister would strive for a neutral, non-partisan and retired legal personality to be requested to head an inquiry commission and submit a report after investigating in accordance with the law.

The law minister said that PM Shehbaz also reassured that Pakistan was a constitutional organism in which all institutions performed their roles while remaining within their domains.

“The premier reassured the chief justice and his judges that institutional interference should never happen and the government’s obligations in this regard will be fulfilled.”

Tarar said PM Shehbaz also expressed his expectation that the institutions would not transgress their constitutional boundaries and domains.

The minister explained that he and the AGP would work on the initial terms of reference for the inquiry commission, adding that they would include a probe for not only the current controversy but also past events as far as the law or cabinet allowed.

He further said that it was inappropriate the mention the names initially under consideration to head the commission since the cabinet had the authority over the matter. Tarar said the body would be notified in two to four days after Friday’s cabinet session.

The law minister said that CJP Isa had also agreed to the formation of an inquiry commission. He explained that there was already a mechanism present to investigate such matters which the federal government carried out and thus it was better for a commission to investigate it instead of a suo motu notice.

On a question about whether the letter amounted to misconduct from the judges, Tarar said the answer to this should come from the commission.

The law minister said that speaking for himself, it would have been better if the letter had come out in the term of the previous CJP since it concerned events from that timeframe and judicial regime.

Tarar said such matters should be transparently dealt with instead of being swept under the rug.

 


News Desk


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