ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) on Monday sought the attorney general of Pakistan’s assistance in deciding about the maintainability of a petition seeking a probe into allegations about former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar’s interference in the judicial proceedings related to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.

The petition has been jointly filed by Salahuddin Ahmed, president of the Sindh High Court Bar Association, and Syed Haider Imam Rizvi, member of the Judicial Commission (Sindh).

Referring to an audio clip in which Saqib Nisar is purportedly talking about conviction of Mr Sharif and Ms Nawaz, Mr Ahmed said that the leaked audio gave an impression that the judiciary was not independent in Pakistan as judicial orders were dictated by certain quarters.

Mr Ahmed said that the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) had passed a resolution on the issue which the court might consider and issue a notice to the PBC.

He requested the court to appoint an independent commission to probe this matter.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah pointed out that apparently the audio was recorded when Saqib Nisar was the CJP.

He then asked the petitioner who had the capability to record an audio of serving chief justice of Pakistan? “And who released the audio clip, the one who recorded it or someone living in the United States?”

If the court presumed the audio tape genuine, who would produce the original audio? Justice Minallah asked. He added that this would set a precedent and people would approach the court for investigations into such audio clips available on social media and it would open a floodgate.

The audio clip was related to a pending appeal in the IHC but the appellant seemed not interested to bring the matter in the court, Justice Minallah observed.

The court issued pre-admission notice to Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan for next week.

The petition says a “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 first event mentioned in the petition is a letter dated April 28, 2017 written by the then chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan Zafar Hijazi to the Supreme Court’s registrar following a telephonic conversation with the SC registrar in which the former was told to expect a Whatsapp call regarding appointment of Bilal Rasool as a member of the joint investigation team which was probing the Sharif family’s assets.

The second event is the speech of former justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui to the Rawalpindi Bar Association on July 21, 2018 in which he accused the country’s premier intelligence 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 third event is the press conference of Maryam Nawaz of July 6, 2019 in which she released a video of former judge of Accountability Court Arshad Malik in which he confessed to have convicted Nawaz Sharif under duress.

The fourth event is the affidavit of former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan which surfaced on Nov 15, 2021 in the media and accused former CJP Nisar of asking an IHC judge “that Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif must not be released on bail before the general elections at any cost.”

The fifth event described in the petition is the alleged audio of Saqib Nisar that went viral on social media on Nov 20 in which the former CJP is talking about conviction of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz.

According to the petition, these events have undermined public confidence in the judiciary and damaged its reputation for independence and neutrality in the eyes of general public.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2021

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