AN affidavit in the case of the storming of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (Cr. Appeal 162/99 arising out of Cr.Misc.27/98) was sworn on November 17, 1999, and placed on the Supreme Court record:

"I, Ardeshir Cowasjee, son of Rustom Fakirjee Cowasjee, Parsi, adult, resident of 10 Mary Road, Karachi, do hereby solemnly state :

"1. Instigated, supported and aided by the leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) party then in power, legislators, party members and street activists of the party stormed the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the morning of November 28, 1997.

"2. On December 13, 1997, I wrote and sent the following letter to the then Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Ajmal Mian : 'Gravest contempt committed in the face of the Supreme Court of Pakistan at Islamabad whilst the court was in session on Friday November 28 1997 'Sent herewith :

'1) A copy of the manuscript of my column sent to Dawn to be printed in my regular slot on Sunday, December 14.

'2) A video cassette.

'3) A copy of the manuscript of my column printed in Dawn on Sunday, December 7, with excised passages highlighted.

'You will undoubtedly appreciate the urgency of the matter. Apparently, encouraged by the successful storming of the Supreme Court on November 28, a fortnight later a mob invaded the court of a civil judge at Faisalabad.

'It is my firm belief, which, needless to say, is shared by many others, that, as is the case with Benazir Bhutto, her family and followers, Nawaz Sharif and his adherents can neither tolerate nor survive a strong united judiciary.

'If Nawaz does survive beyond the next six months, he will find ways to remove you.'

"3. On December 15, 1997, the Acting Chief Justice appointed Abdur Rehman Khan, J, of the Supreme Court to hold an inquiry for the following purposes :

'(1) examine what steps the Federal Government has taken against the persons responsible for the incident on 28/11/97 at the Supreme Court premises and at what level investigation is being carried out as also the stage of investigation; and also to examine the various communications/information which have been received by this Court from various sources, including members of the public.

'(2) to suggest what steps/ actions the Supreme Court should take/initiate in the above matter and for avoiding such incidents in future.'

"4, On February 18, 1998, two months later, not satisfied with what he could establish, the government of the day for obvious reasons being non-cooperative, Justice Abdur Rahman reported back to the Chief Justice suggesting, inter alia :

'(C)(i) As the action of those individuals who forced their entry into the court premises and raised slogans against the judiciary prima facie amounts to gross contempt of this Court but, except for some of them, most of such individuals have yet to be identified, it is considered appropriate that the Hon'ble Chief Justice may constitute a Bench of the Court to initiate contempt proceedings for the outrageous incident of 28/11/97. The Bench so constituted can adopt such measures and take such actions as it may deem necessary to identify the concerned persons. Once the concerned persons are identified, the Court can then issue notice to them and then take further action under Article 204 of the Constitution and the applicable law. Necessity for initiating such action immediately is felt because of paramount importance of the matter as the sanctity, dignity and respect of the apex Court of the country is involved. Street power should not be allowed to coerce and intimidate the judiciary.'

"5. On February 25, 1998, the Chief Justice issued the following order :

'Pursuant to the recommendation contained in para (C)(i) of the report, I constitute a Bench comprising Mr Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, Mr Justice Munawar Ahmad Mirza and Mr Justice Abdur Rahman Khan to identify the persons involved in the incident of 28th November, 1997, and to initiate contempt proceedings as recommended in the above para ....... '

"6. Pursuant to the order of the Chief Justice, Criminal Miscellaneous 27/98 was registered and proceedings in the case were commenced on March 2, 1998.

"7. Between March 25, 1998 (on which date I was for the first time summoned to give evidence), and May 21, 1998, I attended eleven of the hearings held from the commencement of the identification proceedings on March 2, 1998, to their completion on June 15, 1998. It was my distinct impression, and the impression of many others who attended these hearings, that the Attorney-General of Pakistan, Chaudhry Farooq, lawyer of the Ittefaq group of industries, and his assistants did their utmost to protect the leaders of the Muslim League (N) and the men who had stormed the court rather than prosecute them. Chaudhry Farooq himself having been accused of the grossest contempt in the face of the court of Mr Justice Munir A. Shaikh could obviously not have done otherwise.

"8. The actual storming of the Supreme Court (within the building) was recorded on two of the Court's closed circuit television cameras and whereas these were seen on a screen by the Bench and the Attorney-General on March 11, 1998, despite my request, these two cassettes were not shown subsequently in the courtroom whilst witnesses were being examined.

"9. Names of witnesses who could have given valuable evidence were submitted to the Court but all these witnesses were not called. As is recorded on p.5, serial no.4, of Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid's judgment in the matter :

'Other persons made applications to the Court for being examined. Whenever the Court considered necessary, such persons were called and their statements recorded.'

"10. Whilst giving evidence, I accused the former prime minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, and other members of the party in power of having masterminded and organized the storming of the Court. However, the Court did not find it necessary to summon such members of the ruling party to give evidence.

"11. Senator Saifur Rahman, former chief of the Ehtesab Bureau, was clearly shown on the cassette which I submitted to the Court. It was very evident that he was exhorting the crowd to storm Courtroom No.1 where contempt proceedings against the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and other parliamentarians were being heard that day. Khwaja Asif, PML MNA, was also identified but not charged, as was the case with PML MPAs Chaudhry Tanveer and Mian Abdul Sattar. Former Information Minister Mushahid Hussain and the former political secretary to the prime minister, Mushtaq Tahirkheli, were clearly shown on the BBC film of the storming crowd outside the Supreme Court as being members of that crowd. None of these members of the ruling party were charged.

"12. During the course of the investigation proceedings it was not deemed necessary by the Court to inquire into the background and run-up to the storming of the Court, nor into the reasons why it was engineered.

"13. On July 3, 1998, show cause notices were directed to be issued to 26 respondents, and such notices were issued on October 11, 1998.

"14. On March 1 1999, further proceedings against eight activists of the Muslim League were postponed until the decision of the criminal case against them (FIR 229/97, PS Secretariat, Islamabad), and apologies tendered by ten officers of the police and administration were accepted. The show cause notice to Mushtaq Tahirkheli was withdrawn. Contempt charges were framed against two MNAs, four MPAs, and one PML (N) activist.

"15. On May 5, 1999, I was again summonded to give evidence and made the following statement: 'I accuse the Prime Minister and the ruling party of storming the court on 28 November, 1997. They obstructed the course of justice (p.18 judgment of May 14, 1999).

"16. The judgment of May 14, 1999, signed by the three judges acquitted the seven respondents, as charges of contempt were not established against any of them on the basis of the evidence produced before them. The judgment impliedly held that no one had been responsible for the storming of the Supreme Court on November 28, 1997.

"17. Crl. Appeal 162/99 against the judgment of May 14, 1999, is to be heard on November 19, 1999, by a Supreme Court Bench of 12, and for the first time notice has been issued to the PML (N) at House No.4, Khayaban-e-Iqbal, F-7/3, Islamabad.

"18. Now, with the suspension of the PML (N) government and the new government in power, government functionaries and law enforcers will feel free to give evidence, as may certain members of the PML (N) itself. There will be no apprehension that the administration will coerce and intimidate witnesses. For this reason, it will be in the interest of justice and of the institution of the judiciary that Criminal Miscellaneous Application 27/98 be heard by the Supreme Court de novo .

"19. It is accordingly prayed that the honourable court set aside the judgment of the three members Bench and direct that the case be heard de novo . "

On November 18 a letter was sent to Attorney-General Aziz Munshi, attaching a copy of the affidavit and stating, inter alia :

"You are the first law officer of the people and they are justified in their assumption that you will plead that the case be heard de novo."

Munshi delivered. Seven hundred and twenty-two days after the Court was stormed, thirty-eight days after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his ruling party were deposed, the Supreme Court sent a notice to Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, president of his own Muslim League group and former head of government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

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