The Supreme Court resolutely defended its right to investigate the Memogate case in a unanimous detailed order released here on Thursday.
On December 12, 2011, a nine-judge bench decided to investigate the memo scandal after rejecting the argument that the enforcement of fundamental rights was inextricably linked to their violation. Asma Jahangir, the counsel for Hussain Haqqani, had asked the court not to proceed with the petitions, arguing that they did not show any violation of fundamental rights.
After hearing all parties, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who authored the judgment, quoted judgments from Indian as well as US jurisdiction.
Referring to Shehla Zia’s case, among others, regarding the importance of the right to life, the CJ stated the word ‘life’ constitutionally had a very broad interpretation. “The term public importance is tagged with the enforcement of fundamental rights as a precondition of the exercise of the power.
“This should not be understood in a limited sense but in the gamut of the constitutional rights of freedoms and liberties, their protection and invasion of such freedoms in a manner which raises a serious question regarding their enforcement,” the order stated.
The arguments submitted before the court pose two questions, the order said. “Firstly, to conduct probes to ascertain the origin authenticity and effect of the memo for the purpose of the enforcement of fundamental rights; and secondly the consequential effect of the probe, which would determine civil and criminal liability against person(s),” the order said.
The order attached little importance to General James Jones’ affidavit. The order said the affidavit was neither sent through the US embassy nor the government nor the registrar of this court. Besides, Mansoor Ijaz, the man who brought the Memogate controversy to life, contradicted Gen Jones’ affidavit.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2012.