Justice Isa-led commission objects to SC bench hearing audio leaks petitions

Justice Isa-led commission objects to SC bench hearing audio leaks petitions

Islamabad (Web Desk): The Justice Qazi Faez Isa-led judicial commission probing audio leaks raised objections on Wednesday over the larger bench of the SC hearing petitions against the formation of the commission.

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.

PTI chief and former premier Imran Khan and others challenged the formation of the commission in the Supreme court

Later, a five-member SC bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed, 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”.

Commission's secretary Hafeezullah Khajjak submitted the objection raised by the commission to the larger bench hearing the case.

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

The response also highlights that Supreme Court Bar Association President Abid Zuberi has “repeatedly spoken about the alleged audio recordings” on national television while his counsel Shoaib Shaheen had also appeared on similar programmes to discuss the commission’s workings.

Noting that the point of the right to privacy had been raised by the petitioners, the commission said it would consider whether the alleged audio recordings “constitute privacy of home” if the point is raised before it.

In conclusion, the commission said it had “no interest in the matter other than to undertake the assignment given to it and to do so strictly in accordance with the Constitution and the law”.

“The commission also assures that legal objections and concerns raised before it will be considered,” it said.

On Tuesday, a petition by the federal government sought the recusal of CJP Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar from the bench hearing the pleas against the commission.

It urged the CJP to reconstitute the bench and asked the judges to “graciously consider recusing themselves from the instant petitions”.