LHC chief justice expresses full faith that ‘establishment’s interference’ in judiciary will end soon

Published June 14, 2024
Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan addresses an event in Lahore on June 14. — DawnNewsTV
Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan addresses an event in Lahore on June 14. — DawnNewsTV

Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad on Friday said he has received complaints and letters — many verbally — of interference in judicial matters by “institutions”.

Addressing an event in Rawalpindi, Justice Ahmad asserted, “I have full faith that this interference of the establishment in the judiciary will come to its end very soon.”

He explained he was saying so not just because it was “part of my faith but also includes my experience”.

“To get rid of the establishment’s interference, we have to face it with bravery, courage and without any fear, and with the belief that this interference, God-willing, will end soon,” the chief justice said.

“We receive letters, complaints and oral complaints that interference is being done in the judiciary in which a few institutions — naming them is not appropriate — are involved,” Justice Ahmad said.

He added he was glad that the judiciary was “fulfilling its responsibilities without any fear or greed”.

“We have received other such complaints as well. Many complaints are not in written [form] as they say evidence would be demanded, which would be difficult to provide,” the LHC top judge said.

Referring to recent claims of a sessions judge of a Sargodha Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) about interference in judicial matters by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Justice Ahmad said the judge in his complaint had stated he was not afraid of any of the incidents he allegedly faced.

“I am ready for any sacrifice that I might have to make but I would not do injustice to anyone,” Justice Ahmad quoted the ATC judge as saying.

Addressing his subordinate judges, he said, “Temporary worries do come but you have to face them eye to eye and not be a target of any of their blackmailing. Do not be hesitant to make any kind of sacrifice.”

Praising former LHC chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry for being the “only judge to initiate efforts against a military dictator”, he recalled that the lawyers’ movement back then resulted in his restoration as a judge.

Justice Ahmad highlighted that Pakistan was currently “going through one of the longest periods of a civil government”, adding that the 2007 lawyers’ movement “closed the doors for martial law forever”.

The judge urged lawmakers to play their role in improving the country, noting that positions were a temporary thing.

Claims of Sargodha ATC judge

On Wednesday, Justice Ahmad summoned Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Anwar and other officials on a complaint by a presiding judge of a Sargodha ATC, alleging harassment by the intelligence and law enforcement agencies.

The LHC registrar office had received a special report on June 7 from District & Sessions Judge (DSJ) Muhammad Abbas, wherein he said that on May 25 — the first day of his new charge as Sargodha ATC judge — a message was conveyed to him that some authority of the ISI wanted to meet him in his chamber.

Upon refusing to meet the said authority, DSJ Abbas alleged that ever since then, he had been encountering various incidents, such as firing outside his ATC and questioning from family members, among others.

A day ago, the Punjab IG informed the LHC that an investigation had been launched into the alleged threats.

“If excuses are to be made, then the courts should be closed,” Justice Ahmad remarked, reserving the verdict on the matter.

Earlier in March, six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges — out of a total strength of eight — had written a startling letter to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) members, regarding attempts to pressure judges through the abduction and torture of their relatives as well as secret surveillance inside their homes.

It led to the Supreme Court taking suo motu notice of the matter, with high courts submitting their responses and recommendations as proceedings continued.

Imran calls for Supreme Court to look into matter

Meanwhile, a message from PTI founder Imran Khan on his X account said the letter by the Sargodha ATC judge and the letter by the IHC judges had revealed the “massive level of involvement of ISI in judicial matters”.

“I request the superior judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, to look into the matter and, in light of the observations of the LHC chief justice and IHC judges, save the justice system by curtailing the ISI and the establishment’s intrusion in the judicial system,” he said.

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