ISLAMABAD: The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has “condemned” the government’s move to transfer judges hearing cases against party leaders and asked Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa to take notice of what they described as a “blatant and glaring attack on the judiciary by the executive”.
Speaking at an emergency news conference at the National Press Club on Wednesday, PML-N’s secretary general Ahsan Iqbal and party’s information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb also asked the CJP to order a “transparent and independent inquiry” into the reports that the government’s move had come following a “secret meeting” between a senior judge of the Lahore High Court (LHC) and a sitting minister at Kashmir House in Islamabad on Tuesday night.
“We are hopeful that the chief justice will take suo motu notice of this attack on the judiciary,” Mr Iqbal declared.
Demands probe into report about ‘secret meeting’ between a senior judge and a minister
The PML-N leader said they were concerned over “media reports” regarding the alleged meeting between the judge and the minister, saying all over the world, meetings between judges and members of the executive were considered “inappropriate and against the judicial norms”.
Mr Iqbal said the judge who was hearing the narcotics case of PML-N MNA from Faisalabad Rana Sanaullah received a message on WhatsApp in the middle of the hearing that he had been repatriated to the LHC. Later, he said, the ministry of law and justice issued a notification ordering transfer of all the judges who had been hearing cases against PML-N leaders, including Maryam Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz and Khawaja Saad Rafique.
“Is the country’s judicial system being run on whims and desires of the sitting government or independently?” asked Mr Iqbal.
The PML-N leader said the constitution barred the executive from interfering in judicial matters.
“Today, the executive and the government have blatantly attacked the judiciary and tried to influence the cases being pursued against the PML-N leaders. Do PML-N people have the right to a transparent and fair trial?” he went on saying while terming the recent development as “regretful”.
“We hope that the chief justice will take notice and set aside the government’s decision,” he said, adding: “he [the CJ] is the chief judicial officer of the country and a guarantor of Pakistan’s judicial system.”
“All eyes are now on the chief justice whether he takes notice of this attack on the judicial process or not. I hope that he will set aside this decision … otherwise, people will lose confidence in the judicial system,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms Aurangzeb claimed that the judge who was hearing the narcotics case against Mr Sanaullah was transferred at a time when he was about to give his verdict on the video that had been produced by the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) as evidence.
She said perhaps it was the first incident in the country’s legal history that a judge had been transferred through a WhatsApp message in the midst of the hearing of a case. She said the country was being run through WhatsApp, recalling that previously a joint investigation team (JIT) on Panama case was constituted through WhatsApp and then former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was shown his warrant on WhatsApp before his arrest while on his way to Lahore.
Ms Aurangzeb also lashed out at President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan for allegedly trying to influence the ECP through unilateral and “unconstitutional” appointment of the two ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan.
Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2019