ISLAMABAD, June 7: Heads of two intelligence agencies and the president’s chief of staff on Thursday filed affidavits in the Supreme Court against Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who had accused them of pressurising him to resign, and claimed that the CJ kept regular contact with them and even suggested that parliament should be dissolved and fresh elections held under him.
Filed by Chief of Staff to the President Lt-Gen (retd) Hamid Javaid, Military Intelligence Director-General Maj-Gen Mian Nadeem Ijaz Ahmad and Intelligence Bureau Director-General Brig (retd) Ijaz Ahmed Shah, the three affidavits seek to counter the allegation that the chief justice had constantly been pressured into resigning, that he had been confined to the President’s Camp Office for over five hours and he was allowed to leave in a flagless car.
Explaining in details the events of March 9, the affidavits denied the allegation that the CJ had been coerced or threatened to write his resignation.
Federal government’s lawyer Advocate Malik Mohammad Qayyum informed the 13-member larger bench, hearing identical petitions challenging the reference against the chief justice, that the affidavits had been filed. Senior counsel Sharifuddin Pirzada, representing the president, told reporters that there was no need for the president to file an affidavit.
Interestingly, no affidavit was filed on behalf of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) chief who had also figured in the affidavit submitted to the court by Chief Justice Iftikhar.
Chief justice’s counsel Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan described the affidavits as absurd, fictitious and figment of imagination and said the president lacked courage to come upfront and deny accusations levelled by the chief justice.
“These affidavits have also exposed that the reference against the chief justice on misconduct was moved for a collateral purpose,” Barrister Ahsan said, adding that while reading the documents one thing should be kept in mind that these had nothing to do with the main reference.
The MI chief in his affidavit accused the chief justice of suggesting that the president should dissolve the assemblies as these were becoming a ‘nuisance’ and hold elections under the chief justice who would smooth over things.He alleged that the CJ used to remain in touch with the officer in-charge of the Military Intelligence, Lahore, and used to task him on a regular basis to provide information about judges in Punjab to build a database for his own reference. The chief justice also desired that all detachment in-charges in the four provincial capitals must remain in touch with him so that he could have complete information about all judges.
On March 8, the MI chief said, the chief justice had called him on phone and said that he (CJ) was going to meet the president the following day to discuss the complaint of a serving judge against him and that he (director-general of the Military Intelligence) should be there to support him.
The affidavit of Hamid Javaid claimed that the federal government had prepared a draft reference against the chief justice in advance, the details of which along with the code of conduct for judges were brought to the notice of President Pervez Musharraf by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on March 7 in his presence.
“It is wrong to suggest as if the president did not have a consolidated document rather than a few pieces of papers based on a letter written by lawyer-cum-TV-presenter Naeem Bokhari,” the president’s chief of staff said in his affidavit.
It said that on March 8, the President’s Secretariat received a summary containing advice of the prime minister to the president to file a reference against the CJ in the Supreme Judicial Council under article 209 of the Constitution.
It was the prime minister, the affidavit said, who had asked to restrain the CJ and suggested that the senior-most available judge of the Supreme Court be appointed as the acting chief justice under article 180 of the Constitution. According to the prime minister, the affidavit said, it would not be in the public interest or in consonance with the norms of judicial propriety that the CJ should continue to perform functions of his high judicial office while the SJC was conducting an inquiry into allegations against him for misconduct.
On March 8, it said, the chief justice called the military secretary to the president to request for an urgent meeting with the president and the CJ arrived at the President’s Camp Office and not the Army House at 11.35am on March 9. It added that the CJ had one-to-one meeting with the president starting at 11.45am, with only the military secretary present. “There was only one TV cameraman to cover routine meetings.”
The chief justice, the affidavit said, sought to give an incorrect impression that the president had raised the issue of complaint about a serving judge and explained that it was the CJ mentioned the complaint filed against him by Justice Jehanzeb Rahim of the Peshawar High Court.
The affidavit of Hamid Javaid also contains allegations earlier levelled in the reference like reimbursement of petrol for personal cars, irregular TA claims, misuse of authority, intimidation of civil servants and police officers, interference in administration, self-projection and high visibility on the media, protocol issues, penchant for expensive cars and others.
The affidavit accused the chief justice of verbally ordering Justice Akhtar Shabbir and Justice Sheikh Abdul Rashid of the Lahore High Court not to come to the court till their retirement. The CJ also allegedly launched a campaign of indiscreet character assassination against a number of judges of high courts and wanted to initiate proceedings in the SJC on misconduct against a number of judges of the LHC, PHC and the Sindh High Court.
Judges of the LHC include Justice Abdul Shakoor Paracha, Justice Shabbar Raza Rizvi, Justice Akhtar Shabbir and Justice Sheikh Abdul Rashid. The SHC judges are Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Justice Mushir Alam, Justice Arif Hussain Khilji, Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Afzal Soomro. And judges of the PHC include Justice Shah Jehan Khan, Justice Ejazul Hassan Khan and Justice Jehanzeb Rahim.
“CJ’s insistence on appointment of judges of his choice, in complete disregard to the recommendations of other constitutional consultees, created an impasse resulting in a large number of vacant posts in the high courts of Punjab and Balochistan. This adversely affected the working of these courts,” the affidavit said.
The LHC thus remained short of 17 judges and Balochistan of three. A total number of seven appointments to the SHC are also pending with the chief justice.
The affidavit alleged that the CJ in his meeting with the governor and the chief minister of Balochistan (constitutional consultees) had agreed to appointments of certain judges to the BHC, but later refused to honour the understanding. The governor reported this to the president in his letter on February 10, 2007.
The affidavit alleged that the CJ applied and obtained a plot in the Federal Government Employees Housing Scheme Phase-II, Karachi, on January 1, 1999 when he was not judge of the Supreme Court in violation of eligibility criteria. “Superior court judges are not entitled to apply for plots in such schemes, besides in his capacity as a judge, the CJ has already been allotted a plot in Islamabad,” it said.
The affidavit also refuted an allegation that the CJ had been held incommunicado at his residence from 5pm on March 9 till March 13. More than 350 calls were made or received on the mobile phone of his son. Among others, former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif also called on this mobile line.
The affidavit of Hamid Javaid has mentioned an incident when the CJ and his family forcibly occupied the Governor House during a private trip to Nathiagali on June 17, 2006, without reservation, ignoring the fact that the house was already booked for former governor K.M. Azhar. The former governor was requested to delay his arrival by one day and when they arrived, the CJ refused to vacate the premises even the following day and also did not allow them to use toilets.
Intelligence Bureau Director-General Ijaz Ahmed Shah levelled similar allegations and said the chief justice was very concerned about media reports regarding the undue promotion of his son Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, which the CJ said, were damaging his image. The CJ even asked him (DG IB) to probe and assist in suppressing these reports, the affidavit said.
The federal government also directed him to conduct a discreet probe as the CJ had raised this issue with the president during a meeting on February 13, 2007.
The affidavit said that he (DG IB), the DG MI and ISI continue to discuss the reference with the chief justice in a courteous manner on March 9 at the Camp Office after the president had left and that there was no acrimonious exchange. “No-one made any threat and since the CJ had clearly made to the president and the prime minister that he would face the reference, therefore the question of anyone of us making any demands of any kind on the CJ simply did not arise,” it said.