SC resumes hearing of petitions against audio leaks commission

SC resumes hearing of petitions against audio leaks commission

Islamabad (Web Desk): The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday resumed hearing of petitions filed against the judicial commission led by Justice Qazi Faez Isa probing the veracity of recent audio leaks.

A five-member larger bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed is hearing the case.

The petitions were moved by Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Abid Zuberi, SCBA Secretary Muqtedir Akhtar Shabbir, PTI Chairman Imran Khan, and Advocate Riaz Hanif Rahi. All of the pleas requested the court to declare the constitution of the audio commission illegal.

On May 20, the government constituted a judicial commission comprising three senior judges tasked with probing the veracity of recent audio leaks and “their impact on the independence of judiciary”.

According to a notification issued by the government, the three-judge commission is headed by Supreme Court's (SC's), senior puisne judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprises Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Balochistan High Court (BHC) Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

Later, the CJP-led five-member SC bench suspended the probe panel’s proceedings while hearing the petitions.

In a concise statement responding to a petition, the commission maintained that “it would not be appropriate for this bench to hear these petitions”.

Ahead of today's hearing today, SCBA president Abid Zuberi, submitted to the bench a number of orders of different high courts, requesting that these documents be considered for “proper adjudication” of the present case.

These orders included previous rulings from the apex court itself, the Islamabad High Court (IHC), and the Lahore High Court (LHC).

In the previous hearing on May 31, the judicial commission led by Justice Qazi Faez Isa submitted a concise statement through commission secretary Hafeezullah Khajjak and objected to the five-member bench.

The response stated that one of the alleged audio leaks concerned the chief justice’s mother-in-law and Justice Akhtar was also mentioned during the conversation.

The commission stated that it would not be appropriate for the bench to hear the petitions as the SC judges were required to not allow their personal interest to influence their official conduct or official decisions.

One of the petitioners Advocate Riaz Hanif Rahi said he wanted to file a contempt of court petition.

The CJP observed that all the petitions would be clubbed and included in the case.

He said the court would first hear Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan’s arguments against the five-judge bench. No decision was taken on the objections to the bench at the previous hearing, he added.

Justice Bandial said that the court was directing the registrar to allot a number to the AGP’s plea and directed Awan to provide copies of his petition to all the respondents.

The CJP said the government’s petition had included some words that should not have been there.

Advocate Shoaib Shaheen, counsel for Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Abid Shahid Zuberi, said the association had always defended the apex court in talk shows but the judicial commission had stated that “we speak against the judiciary during talk shows”.