ISLAMABAD: 2016 seemed to be quite a roller coaster for the higher judiciary in Islamabad. While the court remained in the headlines for the nature of cases it heard and passed orders and verdicts in, there were numerous moments where incidents taking place outside the court room gained prominence as well.
It is because of these incidents within and without the courtroom that make 2017 worth looking forward to. Skimming over what happened in the Islamabad High Court during 2016, one major case that affected the IHC the most was never filed at court itself.
A September verdict from the Supreme Court declared that scores of appointments in the IHC were illegal. As these appointees were denotified or reverted to their parent organisations, it also gave rise to a new feud between the bench and bar.
The bar has actively campaigned to have the IHC Chief Justice Anwar Khan Kasi removed, as most of the appointments voided by the SC were made during his tenure. A reference against him was also filed before the Supreme Judicial Council by a member of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association. During this period, another judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui made a rare appearance during a meeting of the IHCBA and addressed lawyers, urging them to delay protests till the decision of the SJC. However, this failed to placate the bar.
While each and every case at the IHC was important, some cases involving big names and controversies grabbed the headlines. These included a case against the Presidency for stealing the speech of an 11-year-old, Imran Farooq’s murder case, Barrister Fahad Malik’s murder, and cases against a former president and political parties.
Other significant cases included a petition seeking the rank of field marshal for former army chief General Raheel Sharif, involvement of two brothers of another former army chief in the DHA land scam, Pak-Turk Foundation’s decision to challenge the expulsion of its teachers, non-conforming use of properties in residential areas of the capital, and the Mumbai attack case.
Coincidentally, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was almost a fixture at the court in cases ranging from its alleged foreign funding to its planed sit-in.
In the sit-in case, the IHC not only restrained PTI but the government as well from paralysing the capital, either through a protest or by barricading the roads.
Also in 2016, anti-terrorism courts (ATC) initiated proclamation proceedings against former president General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, Muttahida Qaumi Movement founder Altaf Hussain, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s chief Dr Tahirul Qadri.
Separately, PTI parliamentarian Dr Shireen Mazari has been embroiled in a legal dispute with Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif for the latter’s derogatory remarks during an assembly session. A few days ago, the court revoked an offer to mediate after Asif twice failed to appear before the court.
Meanwhile, the IHC dismissed Jibran Nasir’s petition seeking court’s intervention for the registration of a criminal case against Lal Masjid cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz.
It seems that troublesome times for theses high-profile suspects are not likely to be over anytime soon.
Twists and turns
The Barrister Fahad Malik murder case took a few twist and turns after an anti-terror court deleted terrorism clauses from the FIR and sent the case to the sessions court for trial. Moreover, suo moto notice taken over the case by the SC was also disposed of.
The year was also intriguing for the murder of MQM leader Imran Farooq in which two of the suspects, Khalid Shamim and Mohsin Ali Syed, confessed that Farooq’s murder was a ‘birthday gift’ for the MQM founder and that [Mohsin] took part in the crime because he was promised a position in the party’s London Secretariat.
Meanwhile, former Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry seems to have put a former colleague in a quandary. Enjoying a luxurious ride in a state-provided bulletproof car at the taxpayers’ expense for the last three years, attempts by the government and the courts to wrest it back saw Justice Siddiqui, who had initially allowed him to use the bombproof vehicle, recuse himself from hearing the case.
Pakistan Super League (PSL) has recently been taken into legal arena after a petitioner challenged transforming of the PSL into a private limited company by separating the league cricket from the cricket board.
Among some important developments in the capital, the CDA terminated land lease agreement of One Constitution Avenue complex. In a separate case relating to the civic body, the IHC ordered to attach accounts of the CDA until villagers of Bheka Syedan - affected during the development of Sectors F-11, are duly compensated.
Recently, a bright youth Sabeel Haider, student of sixth grade, who was to deliver a motivational speech at the presidency on Quaid-e-Azam day in the President Secretariat was left demotivated when he was replaced at the eleventh hour, script of his speech was “stolen” and delivered by someone else without his consent.
The year also saw the IHC make strides in the digital arena after it launched a mobile application enabling litigants to get alerts, notifications and updates about cases on their mobile phones.
Onward for 2017
As 2017 begins, litigants would be hoping for swifter resolution of their cases and see justice dispensed.
None more so would be glad for justice than the family of software engineer Sajid Mehmood who had been picked up from his F-10 home in March and remains missing to date despite the authorities claiming to make ‘all out efforts’ to recover him.
To sum it up, swift justice is what a litigant and the society needs. The resolution for 2017 seems to be is that justice for the poor and powerless cannot be delayed, lest it be denied.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2016.
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