ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan has remarked during the hearing of petitions against the Audio Leaks Commission that the government tried to create differences among the judges.
A 5-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan heard the petitions against the commission of inquiry set up by the federal government on the alleged audio leaks. The larger bench includes Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Shahid Waheed and Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi.
Attorney General Usman Mansoor came to the rostrum as soon as the hearing on the petitions filed by Chairman PTI Imran Khan, President Supreme Court Bar Association Abid Zuberi, Riyaz Hanif Rahi and Muqtadar Shabbir started and raised objection to the formation of a larger bench.
The Chief Justice remarked during the hearing that the government cannot seat a judge on the bench as per its wish. We had asked the question that it is written in 184B that there should be a bench of at least 5 judges. If you had consulted us, we would have told you. The benefit of the May 9 incident was that the rhetoric against the judiciary ended. After the May 9 tragedy, the rhetoric against the judiciary stopped.
The Chief Justice while talking to the Attorney General said that you should not interfere in our administrative authority. We have full respect for the government. Judiciary is the guardian of fundamental human rights. The government hastily enacted legislation to regulate the powers of the Chief Justice. If the government had consulted us, they would have shown a better way. You also made bail and family cases a part of this legislation.
During the hearing, the federal government raised an objection to the inclusion of the Chief Justice in the bench. The Attorney General while arguing said that he wants to draw the court’s attention to Clause 6.
The Chief Justice remarked that the forum for nomination of judges for the commission is that of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. It is not necessary for the Chief Justice to nominate himself to the commission. Neither the Chief Justice is bound by the choice of the federal government.
The Attorney General said that I have instructions from the federal government.
The Chief Justice remarked how the government can select Supreme Court judges for its own purposes. Mr. Attorney General, it is a matter of independence of judiciary. Enough is enough, Mr. Attorney General, please sit down. Request the federal government to respect the constitutional traditions. The forum for nomination of Supreme Court Judge is only Chief Justice of Pakistan.
The Attorney General said that the matter could be clarified, on which the Chief Justice said that the federal government should take care of the quarters in the affairs of the judiciary. The government itself nominated the judges in the inquiry commission. In earlier 3 notifications, the government proposed judges, which were later withdrawn.
The Attorney General said that the 2017 Act was not challenged, to which the Chief Justice remarked that the 1956 Act speaks of respect for the Constitution. We will come to this point later. The Attorney General said that he was ready on this point, to which the Chief Justice remarked that he was sorry the government had tried to create differences among the judges.
The Chief Justice remarked that in the law related to Supreme Court powers, the government asked to form a bench of 5 judges. In the new law, they asked to make a bench larger than 5 for appeal. We lack the number of judges. The government hastily legislated the Judiciary. The government must make the law but consult. Let the government tell whom it consulted while enacting legislation regarding the Supreme Court. If you consult us, you would definitely give advice.
The Attorney General said that all these issues can be resolved, on which the Chief Justice said that if the government resolves the issues, we will also provide relief. If there is interference in the administrative affairs of the Supreme Court without asking, it will happen. We understand that you are the lawyer of the Government of Pakistan. All institutions should get full respect. Constitution talks about distribution of powers. Judiciary is not a part of federal government, we are talking about constitution not ego.
The Chief Justice said that not everything is given openly in the law. Constitution has to be followed according to its spirit. Article 175 cannot be ignored in any case.
The Attorney General told the court that the government did not try to divide the judiciary, to which the Chief Justice said that even if the government did not, it must have happened. The plea of the full court itself is against the Judiciary Reforms Bill. The Attorney General is a sophisticated man, respects you and the government. Now everyone is realizing that respect for institutions is important.
The Chief Justice inquired as to whose advice the Judicial Reforms Bill was brought. The government had sent every case including the family to the committee.
The Attorney General said that the full court was also requested in the Judiciary Reforms Bill.
After the arguments of the Attorney General were completed, Shoaib Shaheen, the lawyer of President Supreme Court Bar Association Abid Zuberi, started the arguments and referred to the old decisions of the Supreme Court. The counsel told the court that the Justice must be consulted before appointing any serving judge to the commission. Consultation is also necessary before appointing a private person to the commission as it has to take judicial action.