ISLAMABAD: The Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) and a judicial commission member from Sindh on Saturday moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for constitution of independent commission to ascertain authenticity of the alleged audio of former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar and probe certain events before and after a former premier’s conviction.
The petition filed by SHCBA President Salahuddin Ahmed and member of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (Sindh) Syed Haider Imam Rizvi highlighted the events which were reported in the mainstream media prior, during and after the conviction of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law.
The registrar office of high court has fixed the petition before Chief Justice Athar Minallah for hearing on Monday.
The petition requested the IHC to appoint an independent commission comprising members or retired judges of superior judiciary, legal professionals, journalists and civil society members to undertake “a comprehensive inquiry” to ascertain authenticity or otherwise of the “audio recording purported to be of former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar”.
Petition seeks transparent inquiry to restore public confidence in judiciary
The petitioners urged the court to empower that commission to also probe the events/allegations hurled at the judiciary prior and after the conviction of the Sharif family. According to the petition, “series of events that have taken place tend to erode the credibility, reputation and independence of the judiciary in the eyes of the people.”
The petition also mentioned a letter dated April 28, 2017 written by the then chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to Supreme Court’s registrar after having a phone conversation with him in which the former was told to expect a Whatsapp call. “The then chairman received a call on Whatsapp from a USA number werein the caller said ‘the directions are that the name of Mr Bilal Rasool should be included in the new panel’,” the petition stated. It explained that in the context of the said letter the panel that he [caller] was referring to was the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) ordered to be formed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on April 20, 2017 on the petition of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Imran Khan.
Another event the petition described was the speech of former justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiuqi to the Rawalpindi Bar Association on July 21, 2018 in which he accused officials of a spy agency of “manipulating judicial proceedings and that the Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court had accepted ISI instructions regarding constitution of benches to hear cases involving the former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz”. The petition recalled that Justice Siddiqui was put on show cause notice following his speech before being dismissed from service.
The petitioners referred to Maryam Nawaz’s presser on July 6, 2019 as a third event in which she released the alleged video confession of a former judge of the accountability court Arshad Malik to have convicted the ex-premier ‘under duress’.
According to the petition, the affidavit of former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) that surfaced on November 15, 2021 was the fourth event. In the affidavit, Rana Mohammad Shamim accused former CJP Saqib Nisar of asking the IHC judge “that Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif must not be released on bail before the general elections at any cost.”
Later on November 20, an audio in which ex-CJP Nisar allegedly could be heard talking about the conviction of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz went viral on the social media. This was described as the fifth event.
The petition mentioned that all those events undermined public confidence in the judiciary and damaged its reputation for independence and neutrality in the eyes of the general public which ultimately impinge access to justice. “While various aspects of the aforementioned events are sub-judice before various courts, the underlying question of the truth or falsity of the allegations of outside interference with judicial functions and, in particular, the audio recording of former CJP Saqib Nisar is yet to be considered at any judicial forum,” it stated.
The SHCBA and the judicial commission member through the petition highlighted the need for restoration of public confidence in judiciary by “conducting a comprehensive, free, fair and impartial inquiry”.
Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2021