SHC chief justice says no attempt made to pressure him

Published June 15, 2024
Sindh High Court (SHC) Chief Justice (CJ) Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi speaks to the media in Karachi on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
Sindh High Court (SHC) Chief Justice (CJ) Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi speaks to the media in Karachi on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

Amid raging controversy in the country over the establishment’s alleged attempts to pressurise the judiciary, Sindh High Court (SHC) Chief Justice (CJ) Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi on Saturday said he was not pressured in any such way.

Responding to a reporter’s question during an event in Karachi, CJ Abbasi said: “I have been a judge for 15 years and there has been no pressure on me till today or those beside me,” pointing to lawyers standing with him.

“I don’t think there has been any pressure on them nor are they the ones to tolerate it.”

He said there were some “unseen matters” that he got to know about through social media, acknowledging that an “overall scenario” was present in the country which could not be termed satisfactory.

However, CJ Abbasi said that even if there was any pressure on any judge, no judge could be dishonest “barring few exceptions”.

He reiterated: “Speaking for myself, I can say with confidence and without any fear of contradiction that no one has attempted to approach me. Yes, there are some direct or indirect attempts or some gentleman comes and goes after saying something but thank God no one has put any pressure on me.

“Once or twice when such things happened, they were curbed then and there and it was later said that it was a misunderstanding,” the judge said, adding that there was no “direct [attempt]” so far to pressure him for any case or any particular matter by anyone or state agencies.

His comments came a day after Lahore High Court CJ Malik Shehzad Ahmed Khan expressed the hope that “external meddling” in the judiciary would soon come to an end.

He said he had received complaints and letters — many verbally — of interference in judicial matters by “institutions”.

In late March, six Islamabad High Court judges — out of a total strength of eight — wrote a startling letter to the Supreme Judicial Council members, regarding attempts to pressure judges through the 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 SC judges.

In a meeting, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa had decided to form an inquiry commission, which was later approved by the federal cabinet.

However, ex-CJP Tassaduq Hussain Jillani — tasked to head the one-man inquiry commission — recused himself from the role, urging Justice Isa to “resolve the issues raised in the letter at the institutional level”.

At the same time, the top court took suo motu notice of the issue. A response submitted to the apex court by the Peshawar High Court in May had also proposed the enactment of laws by the federal government stipulating the respective mandate of intelligence agencies so as to protect judges of superior courts from harassment and intimidation.

“Interference in politics, functioning of parliament and judicial working of superior judiciary by executive organs of state is an open secret. Some of the participants/judges have expressed and shared the trauma, which they underwent due to interference by the intelligence agencies when some political cases came up for hearing before the bench, which was presided over by them,” the PHC had admitted in its response.

It further stated: “They have also complained about direct approach to them by members of intelligence agencies seeking favour in decision of political cases. However, when the matters were decided impartially, they received life threats through non-state actors from the neighbouring country, Afghanistan.”

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