IHC judges ask SJC to convene judicial convention over spy agencies' 'interference'

Judicial convention be called to consider matter of "interference of intelligence operatives with judicial functions"

By
Maryam Nawaz
A general view of the Islamabad High Court. — Geo News
A general view of the Islamabad High Court. — Geo News

  • IHC six judges seek SJC guidance on “interference” of spy agencies.
  • Letter refers to SC verdict on Justice Siddiqui removal.
  • Judges call for judicial convention on alleged intimidation of judges.


ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court judges have urged the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to convene a judicial convention over the matter of the alleged interference of members of the executive, including operatives of intelligence agencies, in judicial affairs.

In a letter to the SJC, six judges of the IHC — Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz — sought guidance from the council on the “interference” of the spy agencies in courts’ affairs.

“We are writing to seek guidance from the Supreme judicial Council (SJC) with regard to the duty of a judge to report and respond to actions on part of members of the executive, including operatives of intelligence agencies, that seek to interfere with discharge of his/her official functions and qualify as intimidation, as well as the duty to report any such actions that come to his/her attention in relation to colleagues and/or members of the courts that the High Court supervises,” read the letter.

The development came days after the top court declared the removal of former IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui illegal, directing that he may now be considered as a retired judge.

The verdict noted that the SJC proceeded against Justice Siddiqui on the "assumption that the truth or falseness of the allegations levelled" by the former judge was "irrelevant". It also noted that the SJC opined that Justice Siddiqui had failed to substantiate, independently corroborate, substantiate or prove the allegations levelled by him.

The IHC judges, in their letter, noted that the code of conduct for judges prescribed by SJC provides no guidance on how they "must react to and or report incidents that are tantamount to intimidation and interfere with judicial independence".

The judges further said that they “believe it is imperative to inquire into and determine whether there exists a continuing policy on the part of the executive branch of the state" to meddle in judicial affairs.

In addition to this, the IHC judges requested that a judicial convention be called to consider the matter of "interference of intelligence operatives with judicial functions and or intimidation of judges in a manner that undermines the independence of the judiciary".

"Such institutional consultation might then assist the Supreme Court to consider how best to protect independence of the judiciary, put in place a mechanism to affix liability for those who undermine such independence, and clarify for the benefit of individual judges the course of action they must take when they find themselves at the receiving end of interference and/or intimidation by members of the executive," it added.