Bar associations demand probe into IHC judges’ letter on ‘agencies interference’

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KARACHI: The legal fraternity on Wednesday expressed concern over the allegations made by six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges against interference in judicial affairs by the country s intelligence agencies and demanded an investigation into the matter, ARY News reported.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa convened a full court session in response to the demands.

The Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (SCBAP) threw its weight behind the judges and reiterated its “unwavering support for the judiciary as an institution and for the Honorable Judges of the Islamabad High Court”.

In a statement, SCBAP President Shahzad Shaukat and Secretary Syed Ali Imran expressed their extreme anguish and concerns regarding the incidents reported in the letter issued by six Honorable Judges of the Islamabad High Court.

The SCBAP not only condemned the alleged interference but also stated that it “requires serious actions by the judiciary as an institution”.

Sindh High Court Bar

The Sindh High Court Bar Association, in an emergency meeting today, reviewed the letter written by the IHC judges.

The association demanded the formation of a three-member judicial commission — comprising Supreme Court judges — to investigate the letter.

“Interference in the affairs of the judiciary is tantamount to attacking the judicial system,” it said, while lauding the IHC judges for exposing the interference, terming it a commendable act.

Islamabad Bar

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court Bar Association also expressed concern, stating that it fully believes in the independence and autonomy of the judiciary as the main feature of the Constitution.

“Public confidence in the justice system is linked to the independence and autonomy of the judiciary,” the bar said, adding that a question mark on the judiciary harms the justice system and society.

The lawyer s body said it stands with the principles of the rule of law, independence of judiciary and autonomy. The bar “strongly” condemned the interference by any institution in the affairs of another institution

The bar demanded assurance that the judges should be able to perform their duty while adhering to the constitutional principle of an independent and autonomous judiciary.

Balochistan Bar

The Balochistan Bar Council also stated that the allegations levelled by the IHC judges are worrisome and that former judge Shaukat Siddiqui had also expressed concerns regarding intervention by the country’s spy agencies.

The Council demanded that the apex court take sou motu notice of the letter and urged the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) to call an immediate lawyers convention to put forward a future course of action.

Agencies interference

A day earlier, six serving judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC) penned a letter to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), urging it to summon a judicial convention to review matter of “interference of intelligence agencies with judicial functions”.

Six IHC top judges – including Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Justice Baqir Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, and Justice Salman Rafat Imtiaz – penned the letter to SJC in the aftermath of Supreme Court s March 22 judgement on Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui s dismissal case.

Read More: IHC judges seek SJC meeting over interference in judicial affairs

In the letter, the top judges sought guidance from the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) with regard to the duty of a “judge to report and respond to actions on part of members of the executive, including operatives of intelligence agencies, that seek to interfere with discharge of his/her official functions and qualify as intimidation”.

The IHC judges, in their letter, noted that the code of conduct for judges prescribed by SJC provides no guidance on how they “must react to and or report incidents that are tantamount to intimidation and interfere with judicial independence”.

The judges said that they “believe it is imperative to inquire into and determine whether there exists a continuing policy on the part of the executive branch of the state” to meddle in judicial affairs.

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