ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said the audio and video leaks in social media have no authenticity, as scurrilous campaign is launched against the judges through these tapes.
The chief justice stated this while heading a three-judge bench, also comprising Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi on Wednesday that heard former City Chief Police Officer (CCPO), Lahore, Ghulam Mahmood Dogar’s petition against the Federal Service Tribunal’s decision.
The bench disposed of Dogar’s petition as the counsel withdrew it. Dogar had also filed a contempt petition against the Punjab provincial government.
The chief justice asked Dogar’s counsel, Abid Zuberi, to withdraw the petition. He said; “Let me take instruction from the client.” Upon that, the chief justice said they will dismiss it any way. Zuberi then requested the Court that instead of dismissing, dispose it of.
Justice Bandial said everything happened after the tapes’ leak, adding; “See who is raising the issue (of audio/ video leaks). We are showing restraint and not taking action.”
Earlier this month, a new audio leak purported to be of a telephone conversation between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader FawadChaudhry and his brother Advocate Faisal Chaudhry. In the alleged conversation between Fawad and Faisal, the names of three judges - Chief Justice Lahore High Court Muhammad AmeerBhatti, CJP Bandial and Justice Mazahar Ali Naqvi - were mentioned.
The chief justice said: “We are protecting the Election Commission, which is a constitutional body. The ECP besides the constitutional function also performs the statutory functions. We are here to ensure that free and fair elections are held in accordance with the command of Constitution.” He said the SC will protect ECP, but if there is some malafide on the part of the ECP then we shall interfere.
During the proceeding, the chief justice that his statement about a prime minister was misconstrued. “We in one case said that in 1988 we had an honest prime minister, but the parliament misunderstood it. We never said there was only one honest prime minister in the country. We have protection to the constitutional offices in our judgment, but now the smear campaign is launched against the judiciary, but we would protect it, as well.”
Dogar was initially suspended by the federal government through a notification issued on November 5, 2022. However, the Federal Service Tribunal reinstated him, but in the review the FST maintained the suspension order. The Punjab caretaker government on January 23, 2023 removed Dogar as CCPO and replaced him with Bilal SiddiqueKamyana.
Supreme Court in February suspended Dogar’s transfer order. However, in March, the ECP challenged the apex court’s order of suspending the transfer of Lahore CCPO GhulamMehmoodDogar.
“The ECP is charged with a constitutional duty of ensuring that the elections are conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law and that the corrupt practices are guarded against. It is imperative that to ensure that the constitutional duty as envisaged in Article 218(3) is fulfilled, the machinery assisting the Commission is neutral and non-partisan, and also has no germs of affiliations with a political party,” said the ECP’s petition.
The ECP counsel said that “after the establishment of the caretaker government, the election schedule has been released”, adding that “according to Article 218, it is our responsibility to conduct a fair and transparent election”. The ECP lawyer stated that the Commission has the authority to make changes in the bureaucracy to ensure a level playing field during elections.
The chief justice noted that “under Article 218, the ECP uses the power of transfer to ensure fair, free and transparent election”. “The ECP can give orders to the caretaker government to transfer officers,” noted the chief justice.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023