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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) questioned why it should take action to probe the audio leaks of former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar, when the concerned parties are not interested.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition of President Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) Salahuddin Ahmed advocate and member of the Sindh Bar Council Syed Haider Imam Rizvi.

The bench said that a commission cannot be formed to probe the audio clip without proper grounds.

During the hearing, the chief justice asked the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP), Khalid Jawed Khan, that to whom the court should issue orders regarding an inquiry. Khan replied that the petition had been filed under Article 199-C of the Constitution — that relates to a high court’s jurisdiction in cases regarding the enforcement of fundamental rights.

He added it seemed that they (the petitioners) have filed a proxy petition and a perception should not be given that the petitioners are arguing someone else’s case. He added that sometime people are unaware that they are being used.

Referring to an affidavit by former Gilgit-Baltistan chief judge Rana Shamim in which he accused ex-CJP Saqib Nisar of colluding to deny bails to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz before general elections 2018, the AGP said that this is the season of harassing and pressurising the judges, adding sometimes an audio, sometime concocted affidavit is being released.

He mentioned that there was a prime minister (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) who was hanged on the court’s orders.

He added that former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s government was not restored but another one was restored and briefcases full [of cash] were also given in the past.

The AGP further said that if the petitioners wanted to conduct inquiries into past events, they should amend their petition. He asked that why should we probe the matters of only 2017 and afterwards? Let’s go to [the tenure of] Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he maintained.

He also asked why people are choosing only one prime minister and coming to court as their proxy. He said one chief minister called a judge and the [court’s] decision was declared void but action was not taken against anyone.

At this, the SHCBA president said that the AGP was trying to distract the court regarding the matter at hand by saying either there should be accountability for the past 70 years or there should be none at all.

He questioned the logic behind linking the current plea to the accountability of the past 70 years.

He said the formation of a commission to probe the audio clip was necessary to restore confidence in the judiciary. The petitioner further said that the courts were being discredited through such leaks and the court must investigate this to put an end to the controversy surrounding the judiciary.

At this, the attorney general contended that all matters of the past could be sent to the parliament.

Justice Minallah observed that any audio or video could be constructed in today’s age of advanced technology. He added that anybody can make an audio and ask for investigation. He questioned that what effect would it have on ongoing appeals, if we order an inquiry into this audiotape?

The attorney general contended without naming Maryam that all matters were related to one appeal. He said that he was willing to file an amended petition himself, seeking accountability of past incidents.

Referring to the case related to the ex-GB judge’s affidavit, the petitioner said if the case could be taken up on it then the petition related to the audiotape could also be heard.

The CJ stated that the matter of the affidavit was different because the person concerned — Rana Shamim — had himself approached the court. He also said you are unsure yourself about the [authenticity of] the audiotape you are mentioning. A commission can be formed when there are grounds. He further said that the people who have cases [which could be affected by it] have not brought the audiotape to the court. Why should we [take action]? Is there anyone to take ownership of the audiotape, he questioned.

Later, the court deferred the hearing in this matter till December 24 for further proceedings.

The petitioners have requested the formation of a commission to ascertain the truth behind the alleged audiotape of former chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and probe other allegations against judiciary.

They adopted that the audiotape has tarnished the image of the judiciary and to protect the independence of the judiciary, it is important to determine whether Justice (retd) Nisar’s audio is genuine or fake.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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