The Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) along with a judicial commission member from Sindh on Saturday moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for constitution of independent commission to determine the authenticity of the leaked audio allegedly of former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar and investigate certain events before and after a former premier’s conviction.
The SHCBA President Salahuddin Ahmed and member of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (Sindh) Syed Haider Imam Rizvi filed the petition highlighting the events which were reported in the mainstream media prior, during, and after the conviction of the leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law.
The registrar office of the high court has scheduled the petition before Chief Justice Athar Minallah for a hearing on Monday.
The petition requested the IHC to assign an independent commission made up of members or retired judges of the superior judiciary, legal professionals, journalists, and civil society members to undertake “a comprehensive inquiry” to ascertain authenticity or otherwise of the “audio recording purported to be of former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar”.
Petition seeks transparent inquiry
The petitioners requested the court to empower the assigned commission to also investigate the events and allegations hurled at the judiciary before and after the conviction of the Sharif family. As per the petition, “series of events that have taken place tend to erode the credibility, reputation and independence of the judiciary in the eyes of the people.”
The petition also talks about a letter dated April 28, 2017, written by the then chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to Supreme Court’s registrar following a phone conversation with him in which the former was told to expect a Whatsapp call. The petition states, “The then chairman received a call on Whatsapp from a USA number wherein the caller said ‘the directions are that the name of Mr Bilal Rasool should be included in the new panel’”. It explained that in the context of the said letter the panel that he [caller] was referring to was the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) ordered to be formed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on April 20, 2017 on the petition of Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Imran Khan.
Another event described by the petition was the speech of former justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui to the Rawalpindi Bar Association on July 21, 2018, in which he accused officials of a spy agency of “manipulating judicial proceedings and that the Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court had accepted ISI instructions regarding the constitution of benches to hear cases involving the former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz”. The petition mentions that Justice Siddiqui was put on show-cause notice after his speech before being dismissed from service.
The third event brought up in the petition is Maryam Nawaz’s presser on July 6, 2019, in which she released the alleged video confession of a former judge of the accountability court, Arshad Malik, to have convicted the ex-premier ‘under duress’.
As per the petition, the affidavit of the former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) that surfaced on November 15, 2021 was the fourth event. In the affidavit, Rana Mohammad Shamim accused former CJP Saqib Nisar of asking the IHC judge “that Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif must not be released on bail before the general elections at any cost.”
Later on November 20, an audio that contains allegedly ex-CJP Nisar talking about the conviction of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz went viral on social media. This was mentioned as the fifth event.
The petition emphasizes that all those events damaged public confidence in the judiciary and undermined its reputation for independence and neutrality in the eyes of the general public which ultimately impinges access to justice. “While various aspects of the aforementioned events are sub-judice before various courts, the underlying question of the truth or falsity of the allegations of outside interference with judicial functions and, in particular, the audio recording of former CJP Saqib Nisar is yet to be considered at any judicial forum,” it stated.
The SHCBA and the judicial commission member through the petition highlighted the need for restoration of public confidence in the judiciary by “conducting a comprehensive, free, fair and impartial inquiry”.