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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan prayed to the Supreme Court to constitute a joint investigation team (JIT) or judicial commission to probe the “illegal” surveillance, recording and release of data, including audio recordings, from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The former prime minister on Thursday, filed a petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and cited the Federation, the Intelligence Bureau, the Federal Investigation Agency, and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority as respondents.

The ex-PM asked the apex court to declare that the illegal surveillance of the PMO and PMH and the release of the surveillance data, especially through the audio leaks, are unconstitutional and in violation of law. The court was also asked to issue directions to determine the authenticity of the audio leaks and to identify and bring to task and punish the persons responsible for authorizing and conducting the illegal surveillance, and the collection and subsequent release of the surveillance data, including the audio leaks.

Issue a continuing mandamus to supervise the whole process so as to ensure that the JIT or Commission completes its task in a satisfactory manner, the illegal surveillance is put to a permanent end, the surveillance data is identified, retrieved, secured and then destroyed, if need be, and appropriate action taken against the culprits;

Audio leaks: Imran Khan to move court over authenticity of conversations

The PTI further prayed to direct the government and all relevant agencies and authorities to take all necessary steps to prevent the release, publication, dissemination, sharing, broadcast and spread of any of the surveillance data, including the further use of the audio leaks.

A series of audio recordings have surfaced of late, allegedly featuring the leadership of the PTI and PML-N holding informal conversations never meant to be heard by the public.

Imran, who is among those purportedly featured in the controversial audio clips, had said earlier this month that his party would approach courts to establish the “authenticity” of the recently leaked audio tapes and have a JIT constituted to bring to light those responsible for the bugging of the PMO. A slew of audio recordings of conversations between key government figures — including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, and some members of the federal cabinet — were released last month.

The content of the recordings appears to be informal conversations in the PM Office — as opposed to recorded phone conversations.

The petitioner contended that the impugned actions are illegal, unlawful and violative of the Constitution, and pose a major threat to the security of the country which requires immediate and earnest interference by the apex court.

He stated that there is no law in Pakistan which allows for the surveillance of the PMO and/or PMH, especially without seeking any prior authorization or approval from any court or authority. Any such law would be unconstitutional and void. Conversely, information of the nature of the surveillance data cannot be made public even under Article 19A of the Constitution and the (federal and provincial) freedom of information statutes, such as the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.

The ex-PM contended that the conduct of illegal surveillance of this sort is mind-boggling. The illegal surveillance took place in the PMO and PMH, including at the time when the petitioner was the prime minister of Pakistan. The petitioner was not aware of the fact that any such activity was being conducted in the PMO and PMH. The petitioner had certainly never authorised any such surveillance.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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