Monday Nov 29 2021

Audio leak: 'Suppose tape is correct, who has the original clip?' asks IHC CJ

Former CJP Saqib Nisar (left) and IHC CJ Athar Minallah. Photos: file
Former CJP Saqib Nisar (left) and IHC CJ Athar Minallah. Photos: file

  • Islamabad High Court hears petition headed by IHC CJ Athar Minallah to form commission to probe alleged audiotape of former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar.
  • IHC issues pre-admission notice to attorney-general of Pakistan.
  • Judiciary has faced significant challenges and Bar has fought for judiciary's independence, says IHC CJ.

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked, in the hearing of a petition asking for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate an alleged audio clip of former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, if the audio is correct, where is the original clip.

Having such an investigation could lead to anyone bringing an audio clip [to court] tomorrow and asking it be investigated, the IHC CJ said.

The petition has been filed in the IHC by Sindh High Court Bar President Salahuddin Ahmed and Syed Hyder Imam Rizvi, a member of the Judicial Commission.

At the start of the hearing, Justice Minallah asked the petitioner to state how the petition is admissible. "Against whom was the writ filed? Your application is related to the audio clip of the present service CJP," he said.

On the judicial inquiry, the petitioner responded that the petition was not about the present CJP but about the audio clip of a former CJP.

We will first issue a pre-admission notice to the attorney-general and talk about whether this application is admissible, the IHC CJ said.

During the case hearing on Monday, Justice Minallah said that the court will not engage in judicial activism and will only consider the facts as they appear in light of the law.

"The court wants to ensure that this does not open new floodgates," he added.

Justice Minullah stated that while the judiciary has faced significant challenges and the Bar has fought for the judiciary's independence, we now live in a society where social media is unregulated, to which the petitioner said that it is painful that the audio was leaked and is being discussed on social media too.

In response to the pre-admission notice, Advocate Salahuddin Ahmed stated that the Pakistan Bar Council has approved a decision, and that if the court finds it necessary, it should also send a notice to the bar council.

To this, Justice Minallah replied that the court respects him for the rule of law, "You are upset with some audio clips. Who has the authority to record Chief Justice Pakistan's audio tapes?" he asked.

"Did they [Bar Council] released it [audio tape] or did a man sitting in the United States?" asked the court.

The court stated that the alleged audiotape is related to a matter that is currently under appeal, and that the parties involved in the audiotape case have shown no interest in bringing it [the case] before the court.

The hearing of the case has been adjourned for a week.

Audiotape transcript

The original audio released by FactFocus carried the following alleged audio of Saqib Nisar, making damning statements on how Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz were jailed in 2018:

“Saqib Nisar: Let me be a little blunt about it; unfortunately, here it is the ‘institutions’ who dictate judgments. In this case, we will have to penalize Mian Sahib. And ‘they’ say, “we shall bring Khan Sahib.” Regardless of the merit, we will have to do it, and even to his daughter.

“Other person: But, in my view, his daughter doesn’t merit a sentence.

“Saqib Nisar: You are absolutely correct. I did talk to “friends” that something should be done about this but they did not agree. There will be no independence of the judiciary, so let it be...”.