Unless parliament is strong, others will become powerful: CJP Isa

Six-member bench conducts hearing pertaining to allegations of spy agencies' interference in judicial affairs

Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui
Six-member SC bench led by CJP Qazi Faez Isa hearing the suo motu case on IHC judges' letter accusing spy agencies of meddling in judicial affairs in Islamabad on April 30, 2024. — Screengrab/YouTube/Supreme Court of Pakistan Proceedings

  • CJP Isa says solution to this matter will start from legislation. 
  • Justice Shah says high courts, judiciary need to be empowered. 
  • Supreme Court adjourns the hearing till May 7 (Tuesday).

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa on Tuesday said that “others” will become powerful till Parliament becomes strong, as the Supreme Court resumed the suo motu hearing pertaining to allegations of spy agencies' interference in judicial affairs.

A six-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, resumed the hearing of the suo motu case on the Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges' letter accusing agencies meddling in judicial matters.

The bench comprises Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

On March 25, six judges of IHC had demanded CJP Isa to convene a judicial convention to consider the matter of alleged interference of intelligence operatives in the judicial functions or "intimidation" of judges in a manner that undermined the independence of the judiciary.

The six IHC judges — Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, Justice Tariq Mahmood Jehangiri, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan and Justice Saman Rifat Imtiaz — had written a letter to the chief justice, who is also chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

Seeking guidance from the council on “interference” of the spy agencies in courts’ affairs, the judges wrote: "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."

Subsequently, the Supreme Court on April 1 took suo motu notice of the IHC judges' letter and formed a seven-member bench led by CJP Isa to hear the matter.

Following the maiden hearing of the case on April 3, Justice Afridi, who was part of the larger bench, recused himself from hearing the suo motu case, taken up under Article 184(3) of the Constitution..

Today's hearing 

At the outset of the hearing, CJP Isa clarified that the Supreme Court Committee had decided to hear this case under Article 184/3 of the Constitution.

He apprised that the committee had decided that all the judges, who were available in Islamabad, should be called.

"There was no pick and choose in this hearing," said the CJP, adding that Justice Afridi had recused himself from the bench.

The chief justice said that he had pointed there might be a full court in the next hearing, however, it could not be convened due to the unavailability of two judges.

During the hearing, CJP Isa remarked that if someone wants to impose themselves on the court then it would also be considered "interference".

"Interference can be from intelligence agencies, from your colleagues and from your family member," said the CJP, adding that the court will show by conduct whether there is interference or not.

“A judge’s judgment and order shows, speaks, shouts how much interference there is or isn’t; how much independence there is or isn’t,” he added.

CJP Isa said that he was not responsible for the Supreme Court's history but only for what happened after he became the chief justice.

Justice Minallah said that the Lahore High Court (LHC) has confirmed what the IHC judges said.

At this point, Justice Shah said that they have an opportunity to resolve this matter, stressing that whether it is an internal or external pressure, they will have to end it.

"We have to empower the high courts and the judiciary and we will have to adopt a specific method. We have to stand up against interference," he added.

Justice Minallah said that there was no interference when he was in the IHC. He said that this is a matter of public interest, adding that this is a case of armed forces as they are the defenders of the country.

CJP Isa then said that "others" will become powerful unless Parliament is strong. 

He added that if anyone wants a solution to this problem then start working on a legislation.

Justice Minallah then remarked: "We also have to maintain the image of our armed forces. These are our soldiers who defend the country."

Stressing that the SC rules are made by the parliament, the CJP said that Sindh and Balochistan assemblies can do what parliament can't.

Meanwhile, Justice Minallah highlighted that three high courts have complained of meddling in judicial affairs.

At this, Justice Afghan questioned under which law the country's three intelligence agencies operate.

"Under what law the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) were established?" the judge asked, adding that the court should be apprised of the relevant laws on the next hearing.

“I will never accept any interference from any source and there has not been a single complaint since my assumption of this office to me or the SC’s registrar,” the top judge remarked.

Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan said that writing of the letter was not wrong. 

The Supreme Court then adjourned the hearing till May 7 (Tuesday).