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Memo petitions maintainable, declares SC

December 30, 2011


Supreme Court of Pakistan. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday announced that the petitions filed by Nawaz Sharif and others requesting a judicial inquiry into the memo scandal were maintainable, DawnNews reported.

Moreover, the apex court ordered a judicial commission, based on high court judges, to be formed to further investigate the issue. The commission will be headed by Chief Justice Balochistan High Court Justice Qazi Faiz Isa and will comprise of Chief Justice Sindh High Court Justice Masheer Alam and Chief Justice Islamabad High Court Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman.

District and Session Judge Jawad Abbas will act as secretary of the commission.

The Supreme Court also ordered the commission to complete the investigation in four weeks.

“The court has established a commission for the investigation into the memo case. The Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court will lead this commission,” Attorney-General Maulvi Anwar-ul-Haq told reporters outside the Supreme Court building.

According to the decision, an earlier court order that restricts former Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani from leaving Pakistan without permission will also stay intact.

The petitions were filed by former Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, PML-N leader Senator Ishaq Dar, PML-N leader and former governor of Balochistan Abdul Qadir Baloch, Dr. Tariq Asad and Barrister Zafarullah Khan besides others.

Counsel for PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, Rashid A Rizvi exercised his right of reply to arguments of Asma Jehangir and presented references of various judgments in favour of maintainability of petitions under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.

Petitioner Ishaq Dar appeared before the court in person and adopted arguments of Rashid A Rizvi.

Asma Jehangir had completed her arguments on Thursday and said the petitions were vague and based on hypothesis. She had presented several judgments related to non maintainability of such petitions.

“The petitioner is supposed to tell the court which fundamental rights have been affected,” she argued.

The Federation, President, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General Shuja Pasha, and many others including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were made respondents in the petitions.

Mixed reaction

“This is a black day. This is very disappointing judgment,” said Haqqani's lawyer Asma Jehangir in response to Friday's judgment.

“Today we feel that the military authority is superior to the civilian authority. Today, the struggle for the transition to democracy has been blocked.”

Senator Ishaq Dar, one of the petitioners in the case, welcomed the court's ruling. "We welcome the Supreme Court's ruling...and we would have accepted the order even if it was in opposition," he said.

“I hope that the commission set up by the Supreme Court will complete the inquiry within four weeks. This is not a difficult job,” said Rasheed Rizvi, lawyer for opposition leader Nawaz Sharif.

Human Rights Watch said justice must be seen to be done in the investigation.

“In a sense, 'memogate' is a litmus test for all actors -- particularly the judiciary and the army,” it said in a statement. “It remains to be seen whether the rule of law or the law of the jungle prevails in Pakistan.”