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Pakistan

Government sets up judicial commission to investigate audio leaks

  • Commission includes Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan, and Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Aamer Farooq
Published May 20, 2023

The federal government has established a three-member judicial commission, led by Supreme Court senior puisne judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa, to investigate the validity of audio leaks.

The commission includes Balochistan High Court (BHC) Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq.

The decision was made on Friday during the federal cabinet’s meeting. However, the permission of the judges is still to be taken.

The commission was formed under Section 3 of the Inquiry Commission Act 2017, which states that “whenever it is expedient to conduct an inquiry into any definite matter of public importance, the Federal Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, constitute a Commission of Inquiry in accordance with the provisions of this Act”.

Responding to the development, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and ex-premier Imran Khan said the Terms of Reference formed by the federal government suffer from a deliberate omission.

In a detailed thread, the former premier explained that the Terms of Reference fail to take into account the issue that "who is behind unlawful and unconstitutional surveillance of the prime minister's office and sitting judges of the Supreme Court."

"Who are these actors who are above the law and outside the command of even the prime minister of the country, and who resort to such illegal surveillance with impunity? Such elements need to be held and identified by the Commission."

"The Commission should be empowered to investigate who are these powerful and unknown elements who tap and record telephone conversations of citizens including high public functionaries," Imran wrote.

"This is a serious breach of privacy guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution," he added.

He went on to say that "not only those who illegally retrieve data through unlawful phone tapping and surveillance should be held accountable but those who through fabrication and tampering of different phone calls leak them on social media also need to be held accountable."

In March, an audio leak purported to be of a telephone conversation between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry and his brother Advocate Faisal Chaudhry emerged. 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.

Later, an alleged phone call between CJP Bandial's mother-in-law and the PTI counsel's wife was leaked online. In the purported audio, the two women can be heard discussing early elections, their support for the chief justice, and their resentment towards the incumbent government.

The two women also talk about their concern for the chief justice amid the ongoing election delay case which is being heard by a three-member bench at the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

They also vaguely discuss being in a Lahore rally where there were hundreds of thousands of people.

Recently, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said the audio and video leaks in social media have no authenticity.

Meanwhile, the government has demanded a forensic audit of an alleged leaked phone call involving the mother-in-law of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and said that the judges mentioned in the audio should step down.

The government has asked CJP to take suo motu notice of the audio leaks and order a forensic of the phone call.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah recently said the purported audio leaks mentioning judges are a "matter of concern" for the general public and politicians and must be thoroughly investigated.

"Those involved in the leaked audio must be questioned, and the judges referred to in the audio [the chief justice] should show some grace and step down."

Comments

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Khawar May 20, 2023 06:10pm
And will they be supervised by the Military court?
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Khawar May 20, 2023 06:12pm
What about upholding the constitution? Holding elections in 90 days? Compromised Judges?
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KU May 20, 2023 06:24pm
Judiciary in cross-hair now? Surely this cannot end well, collective madness at best.
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Jay May 20, 2023 06:25pm
First curb trial of "bloody civilians" by the military courts!
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Jani Walker May 20, 2023 06:36pm
The Qazi will obey his masters only.
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Parvez May 20, 2023 06:42pm
Good choice.....now the true credibility of the judges will be tested.
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AmirSh May 20, 2023 08:06pm
Another Judicial commission = Zero result.
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