Six IHC judges write to SJC over ‘interference’ of spy agencies

Six IHC judges write to SJC over ‘interference’ of spy agencies

Islamabad (Web Desk): Six judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) have moved the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) urging the body to convene a judicial convention over the alleged interference of members of the executive, including operatives of intelligence agencies, in judicial affairs.

The six IHC judges, include Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz.

In a letter, addressed to SJC members — Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, Supreme Court Justices Mansoor Ali Shah and Munib Akhtar and IHC CJ Aamer Farooq and Peshawar High Court CJ Mohammad Ibrahim Khan — also questioned if there existed a state policy to “intimidate” and coerce judges.

The six judges also supported the demand of the former IHC judge, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, for a probe into the allegations of interference.

"We, therefore, request that a judicial convention be called to consider the matter of interference of intelligence operatives with judicial functions and/or intimidation of judges in a manner that undermines the independence of the judiciary.”

The open letter, a copy which has been sent to all SC judges, notes that such a convention might provide further information as to whether judges of other high courts have had experiences similar.

“Such institutional consultation might then assist the Supreme Court to consider how best to protect independence of the judiciary, put in place a mechanism to affix liability for those who undermine such independence and clarify for the benefit of individual judges the course of action they must take when they find themselves at the receiving end of interference and/or intimidation by members of the executive.”

The move comes just days after the recent ruling by the apex court, which deemed the removal of former IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui as illegal, decreeing his status as that of a retired judge.

The verdict highlighted the SJC's approach towards Justice Siddiqui's case, indicating that the council had proceeded under the assumption that the veracity of the allegations raised by the former judge was irrelevant.

Furthermore, it pointed out that Justice Siddiqui had purportedly failed to substantiate or independently corroborate the allegations.

In their letter to the SJC, the IHC judges underscored the absence of clear guidelines within the council's prescribed code of conduct for judges regarding the appropriate response to incidents that encroach upon judicial independence.

The development came days after the top court declared the removal of former IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui illegal, directing that he may now be considered as a retired judge.
Meanwhile, a petition has been filed in the SC, seeking an open court investigation of a letter.

In his petition, Mian Dawood Advocate has requested the apex court to form an empowered commission and conduct a probe.

Moreover, the bar associations including Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA), Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA), Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) demanded the CJP hold a “transparent inquiry” into the matter and that legal action be taken against those involved.

In an open letter, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Additional Secretary Sardar Shahbaz Ali Khosa urged CJP Isa to take suo motu notice of the matter under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and conduct a “thorough and transparent (live) hearing” of the case.