Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Thursday called on Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial to take notice of audio clips in which PML-Q leader Parvez Elahi is purportedly heard giving directives for fixing cases before a sitting Supreme Court (SC) judge.
Earlier in the day, two alleged audio clips of Elahi surfaced on social media in which the ex-Punjab chief minister can be heard giving the directions to two men regarding fixing certain cases before a particular apex court judge.
It is pertinent to mention that the SC has not issued a statement regarding the alleged audio clips.
Elahi did not identify both the men by their full names, but reports suggest that one of them is a senior official of the Supreme Court Bar Association.
In the first purported audio, a man believed to be Elahi’s is heard telling “Joja sahab” that the apex court judge should be appointed to hear the “Muhammad Khan case”.
The man called Joja responds by saying that “he will go to Islamabad today”. “He was saying today that they’ll send [the case] to Islamabad. We will try in the process which starts after that,” the man adds.
“Do try to get it done,” Elahi purportedly says.
The PML-Q leader allegedly goes on to say that the judge was “very audacious” to which the man called Joja agrees.
In the second alleged audio clip, Elahi purportedly tells another man that a specific case has to be fixed for hearing before the SC judge.
The other man is then heard asking whether the case has been filed to which Elahi responds in the affirmative and says that Joja should be asked about the details.
“I will find out from Joja sahab. I talked yesterday as well and it wasn’t ready till yesterday. I will check,” the other man purportedly tells Elahi.
“[Ensure] that the task is properly done. You do it,” Elahi allegedly goes on to say to which the latter responds that he will do it.
Elahi also tells the man that “no one has to be told” to which the latter expresses his understanding.
Commenting on the alleged leaks in a press conference in Islamabad, the interior minister referred to the video leak controversy involving former accountability court judge Arshad Malik. In the video, Malik had told a close aide to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif that he had been “blackmailed and pressurised” to convict the former prime minister.
“Arshad Malik had explained how he was made to issue a verdict. He took names and named those who called him and what they said. He had mentioned the chief justice of the time [but] there was no action taken.”
The minister said that similar audios had surfaced in the past and no action was taken against them which is why today Elahi was “managing the country’s highest court”.
The interior minister requested the CJP to take notice of the issue, adding that he had tasked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) with reviewing the matter and to consult the law ministry in this regard.
“Prima facie, a case is made out against Parvez Elahi. It should be registered and this matter’s [truth should be determined] after arresting him.
“There should be a forensic [analysis] of the audio and if it really is his voice, the other person will come to light too and Joja sahab will be found out too. So this matter should be probed and a case should be registered against them and they should be investigated if the audio is proven to be legitimate.”
He said if the matter escalated, it should be forwarded to the CJP or a judicial committee to secure the respect of the country’s courts.
The interior minister also accused Elahi of “maligning an institution”. He again called on the CJP to take notice of the issue, adding that the government would do whatever fell within its purview.
Sanaullah said that if the content of the audio clips were proven to be false, it meant that Elahi was purposely involved in “criminal and conspiratorial talk” which would lead to eroding trust in the country’s judiciary.
He said that if the apex court took notice, then multiple aspects regarding the matter, such as the source of the leak, the participants involved and the aftermath of the alleged conversation, could be traced.
Elahi says he has ‘always respected the judiciary’
Responding to the alleged audio clips, Elahi said a wrong impression was being given to his conversation with a lawyer regarding the Muhammad Khan Bhatti case and that there was “nothing wrong” in it.
“Muhammad Khan Bhatti has been missing for 10 days,” he said, adding that his wife had also approached the apex court in this regard.
He questioned what was wrong with a person approaching a court of law seeking justice. “The PML-N leadership is running a systematic campaign against the judiciary. We have always respected the judiciary.”
PBC demands ‘thorough’ inquiry
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) released a statement calling on CJP Bandial to conduct a “thorough” inquiry into the matter.
In a statement, Haroonur Rashid, the council’s vice chairman, and Hasan Raza Pasha, who heads the PBC’s executive committee demanded that there should be a “thorough scrutiny and investigation with regard to audio viral on social media regarding fixation of case before a particular bench or a honourable judge of the SC”.
If after scrutiny it is found that the audio is fake then action should be taken against those who prepared it and made it viral, the statement said.
“However, if it is found [to be] genuine, then action should be taken according to Article 209 of the Constitution,” the statement added.
Additional reporting by Haseeb Bhatti.
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