SC stays proceedings of audio leaks commission

SC stays proceedings of audio leaks commission

Islamabad (Web Desk): The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday stayed the proceedings of an inquiry commission led by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, probing the veracity of recent audio leaks and their impact on independence of the judiciary.

The order was issued by a five-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed.

In its ruling the top court stated, “Prima facie, the very constitution of the commission is cast in doubt as the government did not consult the chief justice of Pakistan for the nomination of a judge,” read an eight-page order authored by CJ Umar Ata Bandial.

“In the circumstances, till the next date of hearing, the operation of the impugned notification No.SRO.596(I)/2023 dated 19.05.2023 issued by the Federal Government is suspended as is the order dated 22.05.2023 made by the Commission and in consequence thereof proceedings of the Commission are stayed," the order read.

On the petitions filed by PTI Chairman Imran Khan and others, which challenged the formation of the commission, the bench ruled that the government did not have the authority to constitute such a panel without its approval.

The court also expressed concern that the panel's proceedings could interfere with the ongoing investigation by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

During the hearing earlier today, CJP Umar Ata Bandial said that only the chief justice had the power to nominate a Supreme Court judge for inquiry commissions.

At the outset of today's hearing, Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan expressed reservations against the five-member larger bench headed by CJP Bandial.

At the AGP raised objections over the constitution of the bench. In particular, he objected to the inclusion of the CJ himself in the bench.

After completing the proceedings, the CJ remarked that a short order will be issued.

On May 19, the government constituted a judicial commission comprising three senior judges tasked with probing the veracity of recent audio leaks and “their impact on the independence of judiciary”.

According to a notification issued by the government, the three-judge commission is headed by Supreme Court's (SC's), senior puisne judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprises Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Balochistan High Court (BHC) Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.