–Firdous says PTI govt wants uniform justice system in the country
–PM comes down hard on Zartaj Gul, says won’t tolerate acts of nepotism by any minister
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday defended the misconduct reference filed against senior judges, saying that no one is above the law and the incumbent government wants a uniform justice system.
Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the federal cabinet, PM’s Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem briefed the cabinet about the matter and told them about the complaints the ministry had forwarded to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). She said that the incumbent government’s mandate includes the establishment of a uniform justice system in the country.
“If a citizen, regardless of which department they belong to, conducts an activity in violation of the law and Constitution of Pakistan, there will be no compromise on that and legal action will definitely be taken against them,” she said.
She said that the prime minister cannot shut his eyes over such issues to escape any difficulties that may arise if the government takes action. “The premier cannot compromise on his political interests and become a part of the status quo,” she added.
Firdous also informed the media about the events that preceded the filing of the reference.
“The Assets Recovery Unit (ARU) forwarded the complaints to the law ministry after thorough verification and subsequently the ministry verified those complaints on its own before forwarding them to the president who then sent them to SJC,” she said.
PM IRKED BY ZARTAJ GUL’S NEPOTISM:
PM Imran also expressed his ire on State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul for her intercession in appointing her sister as a director in the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA).
The premier expressed his displeasure over the state minister’s act of nepotism and told her that she “should have avoided this act” while instructing all other ministers to avoid misuse of power.
During the meeting, the premier instructed the power ministry to avoid load shedding during Eid holidays across the country. The federal cabinet meeting also approved granting 40 per cent of additional Hajj quota to private Hajj operators.
The meeting also approved to designate Atiq Ahmed as secretary of federal education board and appointed Raja Jawad as judge of Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Islamabad.
On the other hand, the attendance of federal ministers remained low in the meeting as Sheikh Rasheed, Faisal Vawda, Tariq Bashir Cheema and Mahbood Sultan are abroad while Pervez Khattak, Zubaida Jalal and Ali Ameen Gandapur were visiting their constituencies and could not attend the meeting.
Last week, SJC issued a notice to the federal government for hearing the references against Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Karim Khan Agha on June 14. The two judges have been accused of possessing undeclared foreign properties and the government has sought action against them under Article 209 of the Constitution.
The misconduct references against the judges were met with criticism by lawyers across the country who claimed that the government was trying to curb judiciary’s freedom. Lawyers’ representative bodies have also convened a meeting after Eid to devise a future strategy.
The opposition also took the government to task over the references. Last week, Senate adopted a resolution asking the government to withdraw the references, saying the “secretive” way in which they were filed fueled suspicions. The resolution also referred to the resignation of the additional attorney general over the matter, saying it had caused split in the bar.
Many observers see the reference as an attempt to intimidate Justice Isa over his verdict pertaining to Faizabad sit-in. Additional Attorney General Zahid F Ebrahim on Wednesday resigned from his post, accusing the government of attempting to “browbeat the judiciary”.
The superior judge had given a verdict pertaining to the sit-in, which was highly critical of the military’s involvement in political activities and asked it to remain within the constitutional ambit.
It had directed the Defence Ministry and chiefs of the army, navy and air force to penalise the personnel under their command found to have violated their oath.
His verdict also criticised the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for 2014 sit-in that, according to the verdict, had set a precedent for the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) protest in the capital that had paralysed the twin cities for over 20 days.
The verdict had ruffled many a feather and at least three review petitions were filed against the verdict. In a petition filed by PTI, it said the judgement “suffers from defects” and “needs to be reviewed to avoid injustice”.
The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) approached the court through the Ministry of Defence to contest the verdict.
The petition, filed by Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan and Advocate Nawaz Chaudhry, had stated that the faith that some military “officers are violating the fundamental rights of the citizens, supporting a particular party and doling out cash to extremists” could “affect the rank and file’s morale”
It had claimed that the said judgement contains “adverse observations and negative declaratory remarks” regarding the armed forces, for it could “affect their morale”. Sheikh Rasheed of the Awami Muslim League also filed a review plea against the verdict.