ISLAMABAD: Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan asked Rana Shamim, the former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan, on Friday to arrange the delivery of his ‘original affidavit’ to the Pakistan High Commission in London.
The publication of the ex-judge’s purported affidavit in The News last month kicked up a political storm as it claimed that former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar had asked a judge of the Islamabad High Court to ensure that Nawaz Sharif and his daughter were not released from jail before the 2018 general election.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) is due to resume on Dec 7 a contempt hearing arising out of the newspaper report against Rana Shamim, editor-in-chief of Jang Group Mir Shakeelur Rehman, Aamir Ghouri, the editor of The News, and Ansar Abbasi, who authored the report.
In his one-page letter, the AGP asked Rana Shamim to arrange the delivery of his affidavit to the Pakistan High Commission in London “at the earliest” so that it could be forwarded to the IHC registrar through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The High Court had observed that in case the original affidavit was not produced on the due date, it would raise an assumption of its non-existence.
The AGP forwarded a copy of his letter to Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary and the country’s High Commissioner in London.
Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan suggested that, to remove any doubt, a photocopy of the affidavit be made in the presence of his (Rana Shamim’s) representative in London and signed by him. This should be retained in a sealed envelope at the Pakistan high commission.
At the least hearing on Nov 30, Rana Shamim had appeared in person before the Islamabad High Court and sought time for submitting his reply to the show cause notice, but denied that he had provided a copy of his affidavit to any individual because the document executed by him was sealed and had been kept in a locker in the United Kingdom.
The IHC observed that it appeared as if Rana Shamim was not sure about the contents of the purported affidavit or the document. The court asked him to ensure that the sealed affidavit was not seen by anyone else.
The show cause notice, the high court order said, had been issued and received by Rana Shamim and directed him to submit his written reply within four days and produce the original affidavit.
The court asked the AGP to assist Rana Shamim in bringing the affidavit from the United Kingdom. The Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Pakistan High Commission were asked to assist the AGP.
Initiating the contempt proceedings, the IHC had noted that Rana Shamim was appointed as Chief Judge of the Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit Baltistan in 2015. The judge asserts to have overheard a conversation of Justice Saqib Nisar, the former chief justice of Pakistan, in July 2018, the Islamabad Islamabad High Court said.
The allegations made in the purported affidavit amounted to a grave misconduct, the IHC observed, adding that it was the duty of Rana Shamim to have immediately reported the matter to the Supreme Judicial Council because he himself was holding a responsible judicial office.
The court held that inaction on the part of Rana Shamim and his subsequent conduct were unbecoming of a judicial officer and raised questions about his bona fides and integrity.
The purported affidavit was not part of any judicial proceedings, the high court said, adding that it related to appeals pending before it.
The news report and the purported affidavit cast “scandalous aspersions on the integrity, independence and impartiality” of the IHC and its judges, the court stated. The alleged contemnors attempted to undermine public confidence in the impartiality and independence of the high court and its judges, the IHC said.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2021