ISLAMABAD: The bench hearing the lawsuit of former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has been reconstituted.
According to the cause list issued by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) administration, the new bench comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb and Justice Arbab Mohammad Tahir will hear the case on Feb 9. Earlier, the bench consisted of Justice Aurangzeb and Justice Babar Sattar.
As per the background of the case, the PTI chief had accused the former chief justice of rigging in the 2013 general elections.
The former CJP termed the allegations defamatory and claimed Rs20 billion in damages.
Mr Chaudhry petitioned the court, saying the rigging allegations levelled against him were false.
The former CJP filed a civil miscellaneous application in the IHC requesting one of the two members of the bench to recuse from hearing of his case as he termed articles written by the judge and published in an English daily years before he took oath of his office.
The petition stated that Justice Babar Sattar may “recuse himself from hearing the petition as he has bias which is floating on the surface against the petitioner [Chaudhry] as it is evident from the following publications.”
Justice Chaudhry listed the article titled “Hubris as justice” published on July 30, 2013.
In the article, Justice Sattar criticised the judicial activism stating “Since Chief Justice Chaudhry’s restoration that raises concerns about the quality of justice being meted out: populism; overt moralism; appropriation of functions of other institutions; and subjectivity injecting lack of consistency in the law being developed.
“The populist streak first manifested itself when the Supreme Court suspended the carbon surcharge on petroleum products imposed by the Finance Act 2009, and has gained momentum since.
“What kind of justice is produced when the Supreme Court becomes investigator, prosecutor and adjudicator all at once? And what about consistency and lack of partiality in applying the law and principles?”
About court proceedings of August 1, 2013, captioned: “Judicial restraint or complacency” published on July 14, 2014, Justice Sattar wrote: “The goal of establishing a functional justice system in Pakistan seems to have withered on the vine. The problem with associating ideals, such as a just court system, with individuals, such as former chief justice (CJ) Iftikhar Chaudhry, is that with the reputation of the individual tarnished the ideal stands sullied as well. Speak about the rule of law today and you find anyone who has had a brush with the justice system reaching for his gun, and the average Joe mocking the lawyers’ movement and its wages such as Arsalan Iftikhar, the Tycoon. Under CJ Chaudhry, the pendulum swung to an extreme.”
The ex-CJP stated in the application that the judge “in above publications has been criticising petitioner as chief justice of Pakistan, particularly after his restoration as chief justice because of his bias, few instances there from have been noted herein above. Therefore, the learned judge may not adorn the bench as judge,” he added.
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2023
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