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ISLAMABAD, March 9: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has expressed serious reservations over the action taken against Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry by President General Pervez Musharraf.

SCBA president Munir Malik told Dawn that an emergency meeting of the association had been convened in Islamabad on Saturday to chalk out a plan of action. He said the SCBA would take a firm stand against what he called this “assault on independence of judiciary.”

"This is a callous conspiracy of the highest order against superior judiciary," he remarked.

He said the Constitution provided a mechanism in case of a grievance against a judge. "To my knowledge, the order of removal or suspension is not by the Supreme Judicial Council but by the presidency, in complete negation of the concept of separation of powers. That is the basic feature of the constitution,” he remarked.

He said the Supreme Judicial Council was not functioning as the senior-most judge after the Chief Justice was out of the country. He said the appointment of Justice Javed Iqbal as Acting Chief Justice was totally illegal and against the spirit of the judgment by the Apex Court in Al-Jihad Trust case.

He said the current year was very crucial as the Supreme Court was to take up various important cases, including those of missing people, dual citizenship and the one relating to qualification of MMA legislators. He said the court was supposed to decide whether the present assemblies could re-elect the president for another term and if he was eligible to contest the elections at all.

He said the court was also to take up a petition filed by veteran politician Asghar Khan urging it to determine the role of ISI.

He said the court’s judgment on the Hasba bill and in the Pakistan Steel Mills case might have upset the government.

Senior lawyer Habib Wahabul Khairi who was the petitioner in a case in which the apex court decided that the CJ should be appointed on the basis of seniority, had accused the government of using different tactics to pressurise the judiciary from day one.