Ex-CJP Jillani picked to probe meddling claims

Published March 31, 2024
Tassaduq Hussain Jillani
Tassaduq Hussain Jillani

• Commission to determine veracity of judges’ allegations, investigate involvement of intelligence officials
• One-man panel empowered to recommend action against anyone involved, investigate related issues
• Cabinet says there is no executive interference in judicial affairs; PTI rejects govt move

LAHORE: As the Shehbaz Sharif cabinet on Saturday approved the constitution of an inquiry commission headed by ex-chief justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani to probe allegations of inte­rference by intelligence agencies in judicial affairs, the body has been authorised to “recommend act­ion” against anyone from the intelligence agency, department, or government if found guilty.

On March 25, six Islam­abad High Court judges — out of a total strength of eight — wrote a bombshell letter to the Supreme Jud­icial Council (SJC) members regarding attempts to pressurise judges through abduction and torture of their relatives as well as secret surveillance.

The letter was signed by judges Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Babar Sattar, Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Arbab Muhammad Tahir and Saman Rafat Imtiaz and addressed to the CJP and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Munib Akhtar as well as the top judges of the Peshawar High Court and the IHC.

The cabinet meeting was supposed to be held on Friday as per the announcement of the law minister, but it was postponed till Saturday.

As PM Shehbaz remo­tely chaired the meeting from his residence in Model Town, the cabinet approved the terms of reference for the one-man commission to probe the allegations.

“The meeting was told that under an announcement of the full court meeting of Supreme Court, a proposal over the constitution of a commission was agreed in a meeting between incumbent CJP Qazi Faez Isa and PM Sharif,” a government statement said after the meeting.

ToR of commission

Under the Terms of Reference (ToR), the inquiry commission will fully probe the allegations levelled by the IHC judges and decide whether these are true or otherwise.

It will investigate whether any personnel (of intelligence agencies) are directly responsible for interfering in judicial matters.

“The inquiry commission under its findings will recommend action against anyone from the intelligence agency, department, or government if found involved in such issue. It could, if found necessary during the course of its proceedings, probe other related issues as well.”

‘Executive not involved’

The cabinet, however, rejected the allegations regarding interference by the executive. The statement said the cabinet members had a unanimous opinion regarding the separation of powers among the state institutions under the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan.

“The prime minister reiterated his strong belief in the freedom of judiciary and constitutional jurisdiction,” the statement said, adding the premier also took the cabinet members into confidence about his meeting with CJP Isa.

Former CJP Jillani was among the penal shortlisted by the PML-N for the slot of caretaker prime minister last year. However, Anwaarul Haq Kakar was appointed to the coveted post. Justice Jillani served as the 21st CJP from 2013 to 2014.

PTI rejects move

On the other hand, the PTI again rejected the formation of the inquiry commission to investigate the letter of the six judges of IHC detailing the intelligence agencies’ meddling in judicial matters.

The PTI also demanded the resignation of the CJP and the IHC chief justice for their vacillation to take actions for the protection and safeguarding of the independence of the judiciary and fellow judges.

The judges of the IHC clearly stated in their startling letter that they repeatedly raised the issue before the IHC CJ Aamer Farooq and even apprised CJP Isa about the interference in the affairs of the judiciary and the pressure exerted on them to get decisions of their choice.

“What is happening in front of us is judicial surrender, as the judiciary itself is selling its independence to the executive,” the PTI said.

PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan alleged that all these unlawful activities took place when Shehbaz Sharif was the prime minister of the Pakistan Democratic Movement.

The PTI leader said it would be the “murder of law and justice to expect fair and transparent conduct of investigation because of how the so-called planted PM could determine whether or not he was guilty”.

“The PTI vehemently rejects the inquiry commission and will take every step within the constitution and law to ensure the independence of the judiciary come what may,” he said.

Five-year roadmap

PM Shehbaz also directed the cabinet members to work hard towards achieving the targets set in a five-year economic roadmap. The premier said the parameters of the five-year plan with the relevant ministries had been shared and targets needed to be achieved.

“Responsibility with accountability will be the hallmark of the five-year roadmap as no system in the world can progress without it,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2024

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