Institutional pressure and judiciary

Amidst increasing calls for enquiry

The affidavit submitted by former Chief Judge Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Shamim and the audio clip ascribed to former Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar indicate two things: the punishment administered to Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz was under instructions; and that those who issued instructions wanted to bring Imran Khan to power through all means, fair or foul. The treatment meted out to former Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who made similar remarks while addressing a bar association, had also raised concerns that remain unaddressed. His appeal against the Supreme Judicial Council’s (SJC) opinion and the 11 October 2018 notification under which he was removed, is still pending before the Supreme Court. There are reports of more incriminating audios or videos to be appearing soon. In case the custodians of the system continue to take no notice, this would do irreparable damage to their public standing. As observed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah at the Asma Jehangir Conference, “The judicial organ cannot afford to bury its head in the sand and ignore its mistakes.”

Two ways to sort out the matter have so far been suggested. The Pakistan Bar Council has asked for the formation of an independent inquiry commission to look into the leaked clip. The PBC wants a three-member Commission comprising a retired Chief Justice, a senior lawyer of great repute and a senior parliamentarian of impeccable character to inquire into recent allegations pertaining to audio and video recordings.

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Taking a cue from CJP Gulzar Ahmad’s address at the aforementioned Conference, former Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui has suggested another way out. He calls the CJP’s remarks that “other factors won’t be relevant any more in the instant matter (appeal against his sacking), which is pending since Oct 2018” a ray of hope and a way out for judiciary to restore its image. In his application to the Supreme Court the former judge said his appeal against dismissal had now turned into a “test case to gauge the judiciary’s independence”.

After allegations from within, the superior judiciary is expected to move urgently and transparently to uncover the facts followed by necessary action.

Editorial
The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]

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