ISLAMABAD, May 29: The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on Tuesday narrated for the first time his version of the events of of May 9 at the President’s camp office in Rawalpindi.
He said in an affidavit that top intelligence officials had constantly pressured him into resigning, and after keeping him confined at the office for over five hours, he was allowed to leave in a flagless car.
“I was informed that I have been restrained from acting as the chief justice.”
The `non-functional’ chief justice informed the full-bench hearing identical petitions against the presidential reference that since the action of March 9, he had remained a victim of intrusive and not-so-intrusive intelligence and police operation.
Justice Iftikhar said his entire house had been bugged, all his activities were being monitored, and `everything and everyone’ in and around his residence was being watched through a listening post set up at the nearby Sindh House.
He did not say in the affidavit if he had been summoned to the Army House by President General Pervez Musharraf or whether he had made a request to meet the president.
“When I reached the Army House, President Musharraf, wearing military uniform, told him he had received a complaint against him from a judge of the Peshawar High Court..
“I replied that it was not based on facts as my case was decided by a two-member bench and that attempts are being made to maliciously involve the other member of the Bench as well.” After this, the president said there were a few more complaints as well, directing his staff to call the 'other persons'.
The 'other persons' entered the room immediately. They were: Prime Minster Shaukat Aziz, the Directors General
of Military Intelligence (MI), Director General of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Director General Intelligence Bureau (IB), Chief of Staff (COS) and another official. All officials (except the IB chief and the COS) were in uniform.
He said Gen Musharraf started reading notes from bits of paper. There was no single consolidated document containing charges against him. Most of the allegations had been taken from the contents of a 'notorious letter' written by Mr Naeem Bukhari.
The Chief Justice said he dismissed the accusations as being baseless, having been engineered to defame him and the judiciary.
He said President Musharraf insisted on his resignation. The president also said that if he agreed to resign, he would 'accommodate' him.
In case of refusal, Gen Musharraf warned him, he would have to face a reference. “I replied: `I will not resign and would face any reference since I am innocent; I have not violated any code of conduct or any law, rule or regulation. I believe that I am the guardian of law. I strongly believe in God."
He said the reply angered the president. He left the room in haste along with his military secretary, COS and the prime minister, saying that others would show evidence to him.
“The meeting lasted about 30 minutes. The chiefs of the MI, ISI and IB stayed back, but they too did not show him me a single piece of evidence.”
In fact, Justice iftikhar said, no official, except the ISI chief, had any document with him.
The officials, however, alleged that Justice Iftikhar had used his influence
to get his son admitted in Bolan Medical College, Quetta, when he was serving as a judge of the Balochistan High Court. The ISI and MI heads persisted in their demand for resignation, the CJ said. “I refused, saying that the demand has a collateral purpose.”
“I was kept there absolutely against my will till 5pm. I was stopped there on one pretext or the other and at one stage was told the president will once again see me. “After 5pm, the MI chief told me `This is a bad day. Now you are taking a separate way and you are informed that you have been restrained from working as a judge of the Supreme Court or the Chief Justice of Pakistan’.”
Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry further said when he came out of the room, he was stunned to find that the national flag and the insignia of office were no longer there on his car.
“My staff officer later informed me Justice Javed Iqbal has taken oath as Acting Chief Justice and it has been shown on TV. My driver said he had been instructed not to drive the Chief Justice to the Supreme Court.”
Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said while on the way home, he asked the driver to take him to the Supreme Court, but an army official stopped his car near the Sports Complex from proceeding further.
In the meantime, an SP, Tariq Masood Yasin, appeared. “He (SP Tariq) ordered the driver to come out of the car so that he (SP) could drive. He also asked his gunman to come out of the car.
“I intervened, telling the SP `okay, I will not go to the Supreme Court, but my chauffeur will drive the car and my gunman will escort me home. Only then, did the SP allow the chauffeur to take the steering.”
Justice Iftikhar said he reached home at 5.45pm and was shocked to see
policemen and agency officials in mufti all over the place. My phones had already been disconnected, cellphones, TV, cables and DSL had been jammed or disconnected. He said he and his family were completely cut off for several days from the outside world.
He said by 9pm, all official vehicles in his use, including a Mercedes, had been taken away by means of a lifter. One of the vehicles was returned to him later in the night, but without the key.
The next day (March 10), the chief justice recalled, he received a `notice' from the Supreme Judicial Council informing him hereby he came to know that a Reference (No.43/2007) had been filed by the President before the Council. There was also a copy of the Order passed by the Council restraining him to function as a Judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of Pakistan. He said the copy of the Reference had also been appended with the Notice without any annexure or supporting documents for his perusal.
Justice Chaudhry said it was also surprising for him to note that the aforesaid reference came up for hearing on March 9, 2007 after 6 pm in indecent haste. Two members of the Council as was evident from news published in an urdu daily on March 10, 2007, had been flown to Islamabad in special flights, from Lahore and Karachi simply to participate in a meeting of the Council. In fact, no meeting had been called by the Secretary of the Council namely Mr Faqir Hussain. No one had issued either agenda for the meeting or notice thereof.
He said the Council, rather than merely scrutinizing the material, if at all and serving notice on him (without prejudice to his rights and interests as averred in the titled petition), went ahead and passed an order very detrimental to his interests as well as the interests of the institution. He said he was restrained to perform his functions as a Judge of the Supreme Court Judge and or Chief Justice of Pakistan.
He said that he had been detained along with his family members including his infant child of seven years from the evening of March 9, 2007 till March 13. He had to walk till the other end of the road when the police officer confronted him and manhandled him as has now been established by a judicial enquiry.He said the Supreme Court staff attached to him was reportedly missing and had been kept at an unknown place. An attempt was being made to fabricate the evidence through them by coercive means against him. Even other employees working at his residence were taken and made to appear before some agency officials. They were released after 2/3 days. He said the grocery man was not allowed to go to Šcollect grocery; he was made to wait till an agency official accompanied him to the market and back.
He said his chamber was sealed and certain files laying therein were removed and some of them had been handed over to the ISI under the supervision of the newly appointed Registrar.He said such an act was contrary to all norms and practices of judiciary and being the CJP, he was entitled to occupy his chamber along with his staff.
He said on account of deployment of heavy contingents, no one was allowed to meet him freely, in as much as his colleagues were not allowed access to meet him. Even a retired judge of the Apex Court Mr Justice (R) Munir A Sheikh was not allowed to meet him. He said he was not all alone to suffer this agony. Even his children were not allowed to go to school, college and university. He said he and his family members were deprived of basic amenities of life, including medicines and doctors, etc.He said even when ordered by the Council, he was deprived of the assistance of his counsel to seek legal assistance regarding legal and factual issues involved in the reference.
He said he and his family have been made to go through a lot of mental, physical and emotional agony, torture and embarrassment and words could never be enough to properly and adequately express that.
He said all these tactics were used to put pressurise him to resign from the office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. But after March 13, 2007 when he succeeded in establishing at least some contact with his lawyers team during a brief appearance before the Council and after March 16, 2007, the on going pressure to 'resign the office' was released to some extent.
He said he believed that his entire house has been bugged and at the Sindh House which is located right opposite the residence of the deponent, the officials of the agencies other than police have established a place therein to keep an eye on those who come and visit him.
He said his children were so scared that they could not go to school or university. "As a result, one of my daughters failed to appear in her exams (1st year, Federal Board) whereas my other daughter who is a student of Bahria university is not being allowed to take her examination (1st semester) due to lack of attendance in internal studies. My younger son is also not in a position to attend his school because of circumstances through which I am passing".
Though the affidavit did not say the Chief Justice was summoned to the Army House, the lead counsel for the Chief Justice Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan who concluded his arguments on maintainability of the petition challenging the reference against CJ, before a 13 member bench of the Court headed by Justice Khalilur Rahman Ramday said he had evidence that the Chief ŠJustice was summoned to the Army House. He said he will prove that the respondent side was telling lies before the Court.He said President General Pervez Musharraf must be impleaded as an essential party in the case.Justice Faqir Muhammad Khokar asked how can a referring authority be made a party in the case. Aitzaz Ahsan replied that he should acted like a post office as a referring authority, but he summoned the Chief Justice, pressurized him to resign and punished him for the refusal by filing a reference against him before the Supreme Judicial Council with malafide intention.
He said there were precedences of President being made a party in Farooq Leghari, Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif and Aftab Khan Sherpao cases. “This is a case of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the President must be impleeded as a party”, he submitted.
He said under Islamic jurisprudence also, the rulers were answerable to the courts. He cited various judgments passed by superior courts in Pakistan as well as India to build his argument that the immunity to the President under Article 248 against judicial proceedings would not apply in this case and it was open for judicial review by the Court.