IHC judges’ letter: Imran writes to CJP Isa calling for punishing subverters of Constitution

Published April 20, 2024
Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa (L) and Imran Khan (R).—File photo
Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa (L) and Imran Khan (R).—File photo

In a letter written to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa on Saturday, incarcerated PTI founder Imran Khan called for punishing those who have subverted the Constitution in the matter of allegations by six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges about interference in judicial affairs by the country’s intelligence apparatus.

The development comes in the wake of allegations made by six IHC judges against interference in judicial affairs by the country’s intelligence apparatus. On March 25, six IHC judges — out of a total strength of eight — wrote a startling letter to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) members, regarding attempts to pressure judges through abduction and torture of their relatives as well as secret surveillance inside their homes.

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.

A day later, calls had emerged from various quarters for a probe into the investigation, amid which CJP Isa summoned a full court meeting of the Supreme Court’s (SC) judges.

After a meeting between CJP Isa and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on March 28, the duo decided to form a commission to investigate the concerns of interference in judicial affairs following the cabinet’s approval. However, former CJP Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, who was appointed to head the commission, subsequently recused himself from the matter, leading to the apex court taking a suo motu notice of the issue.

On April 3, CJP Isa asserted that “any attack” on the judiciary’s independence would not be tolerated as he hinted at forming a full court to hear a suo motu case pertaining to allegations of interference in judicial affairs.

In today’s letter addressed to the top judge, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Imran noted that it was “ironical” that those who were supposed to and duty-bound to provide justice were instead, themselves seeking it.

He said the demand of the IHC judges for a judicial convention to look into the matter would have “exposed the scale of this meddling and demonstrated the extent to which, institutionally, those armed with weapons continue to overpower those armed with the pen”, referring to the alleged interference of the executive and intelligence agencies.

However, Imran said the apex court’s actions so far on the issue were “meek and indecisive”.

He said that the situation called for “strict action on part of the SC towards speedily setting the system right” by coming to the aid of all high courts and lower courts.

“This calls for assembling and putting in place a robust mechanism of enforcement and accountability that resurrects the judiciary’s independence. And this calls for punishing those who have subverted the Constitution by unconstitutional means as aforesaid.

“Failing that, the people’s confidence in the justice system of Pakistan, which is undergoing significant erosion already, will stand dismantled and demolished,” he added.

The PTI founder said the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution had fallen to a “new low” in the country, causing the “gradual emergence of the law of the jungle and the enactment of the primitive doctrine that might is right”.

He said that if the “situation were to prevail, it would be fatal to any civilised order in the world”, particularly if the superior judiciary did not “meaningfully intervene”.

In his letter, Imran raised seven issues with the apex court and said that the circumstances called for a “prompt intervention”.

Taking aim at PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s clean chit in the Toshakhana vehicle reference, Imran criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for “making a mockery of our justice system” by proposing the former prime minister’s exoneration despite it having previously been pursued as an “open and shut case”.

Imran called for a thorough inquiry into Lt-Gen (retd) Nazir Ahmed Butt’s conduct as NAB chairman for the “dishonesty, discrimination and double standards employed by NAB”.

Talking about the Bahawalnagar incident that saw an alleged “face-off” between police and army personnel following the arrest of a serving army official, Imran said the incident should serve as an “eye opener on the lopsided state of uniformed vigilante justice” in the country.

“The lines drawn by our Constitution between the various pillars of the state are getting blurred into non-existence.”

Imran also said that he believed that over 90 per cent of the people who are incarcerated for the incidents of violence, arson and looting connected with the May 9 protests were “peaceful and unarmed protesters who did not indulge in any violence whatsoever”.

Imran said a constitutional petition calling for an independent, transparent and thorough inquiry to ascertain the inciters and perpetrators of the May 9 violence, as well as those who allowed it to escalate, was pending in the apex court since May 25, 2023, adding that the case must be taken up and decided on a priority basis in the interest of “complete justice”.

Regarding alleged rigging in the general elections, Imran said the SC should take up the petitions on the conduct of the polls on a priority basis and decide them.

Concluding the letter to CJP Isa, Imran said: “Inaction on your part and that of the SC in the face of each of the aforementioned matters of grave importance would exacerbate the constitutional crisis the country is already faced with and push it closer and closer to the abyss.”

Reminding the CJP of his past remarks, Imran added that “now is the time for you to prove whether your declared belief in the principles and values espoused by Pakistan’s founding fathers, and your proclamation of the supremacy of the Constitution, are for real or were mere hollow rhetoric … The entire nation is looking at you accordingly.”

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