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


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

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 Fafat 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, supported Justice Siddiqui’s request to investigate the allegations made by him and urged that the scope of such investigation be expanded to determine whether such interference in relation to the administrative functions of IHC (including composition of benches and marking of cases) and judicial proceedings of the courts that IHC supervises are still continuing and whether judges of high courts, district and special courts are discharging functions under explicit and or veiled threats of coercion by intelligence agencies.

“We will also note that the code of conduct for Judges prescribed by SJC provides no guidance on how judges 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, implemented by intelligence operatives who report to the executive branch, to intimidate judges, under threat of coercion or blackmail, to engineer judicial outcomes in politically consequential matters.

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”.  


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