The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday asked the government to inform it about the elements behind recording audios of conversations.
The court issued the directives while hearing a petition filed by Najam Saqib, the son of ex-CJP Saqib Nisar, against a National Assembly committee tasked with investigating his purported audio leak, wherein a voice said to be his could be heard demanding a “reward” from a PTI leader for securing him the party ticket to contest Punjab elections.
“Who records the audios,” Justice Babar Sattar asked as the IHC took up the case. The court sought a response from the government by June 19 and also barred the NA committee from taking any action against the ex-CJP’s son.
In his petition, Najam had requested the court to stop the proceedings of the parliamentary panel headed by Aslam Bhootani as the body was formed in violation of the National Assembly rules.
He also claimed that the committee did not summon him but the secretary of the committee still asked him to appear before the panel.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Sattar inquired about the powers under which the committee had issued a notice. “Is this a special committee?” he asked.
Najam’s lawyer, Sardar Latif Khosa, said that the special committee would follow the same rules as those for regular committees.
“You will have to make the relevant ministry a part of the case,” Justice Sattar said. Khosa, however, responded by saying that there was no relevant ministry in this case but that they would do so.
The lawyer argued that their petition had stated that the NA speaker and the assembly did not have the jurisdiction to probe “private matters”.
“We have not challenged the matter that is currently being heard by the Supreme Court,” he said, referring to the pleas against the formation of a judicial commission formed to probe recent audio leaks.
He underlined that the audio in question was a private phone call between two private individuals and should not be subject to scrutiny by parliament.
The court then suspended the summons issued to Najam by the committee and asked the government to submit a reply in the case by June 19.
Najam had also challenged the “legality and validity” of the National Assembly speaker’s decision to form the special committee to “audit, inquire and investigate” his alleged audio clip.
“Under the garb of these audio leaks, a campaign has been launched against the petitioner and his father that some kind of gratification has been obtained by Abuzar Chaddhar for the said ticket,” he said.
While he conceded that his father played a role in the award of a PTI ticket to Chaddhar, the petition, however, stated that Chaddhar explored other avenues as well to secure the party ticket.
Najam said, “the petitioner is very clear in his mind that Abuzar Chaddhar was given the ticker on the basis of positive decision taken in the appeal on merit”.
According to the petition, “The audio leak is a result of illegal surveillance of the petitioner’s privacy which can neither be disseminated nor be used for incriminating the petitioner”. Citing its evidential value, the petition said “any document or audio leak cannot be used in any trial or inquiry” unless it is clear that who recorded it or for what purpose.
In the audio in question, a voice purported to be that of Najam can be heard saying to the person on the other end that his father had worked very hard to get the job done and the caller on the other side, said to be PTI ticket hopeful Abuzar Chaddhar, can be heard saying he would come to meet Najam’s father after submitting the ticket.
In the clip, the voice said to be Najam’s can also be heard asking Chaddhar to meet his father the same day and, in conversation with another caller — identified as Mian Uzair — asking for “not only delivery of the goods, don’t take less than 120”.
Chaddhar was granted a PTI ticket in the second phase when party chairman Imran Khan reviewed and changed his earlier decision for 22 seats.
In the audio, a voice purported to be Chaddhar’s can be heard as saying that “your efforts have paid off” and he would come straight to meet him [ex-CJP] after submitting the ticket [with the ECP] before 12 noon.
According to Geo News, the former CJP confirmed that the audio was of his son’s but that the facts had been “doctored”.