IHC issues contempt notices to IB, FIA and PTA

Notes applications seeking judge’s recusal in leaks case part of a collusive scheme to intimidate court

Fiaz Mehmood May 04, 2024
Justice Babar Sattar. PHOTO: FILE


The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has issued preliminary contempt notices to the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for seeking recusal of a judge hearing a case related to surveillance of citizens “with mala fide intent”.

Justice Babar Sattar of the IHC has been hearing a case pertaining to unauthorized recording of alleged telephonic calls of a former first lady, Bushra Bibi, and Najamus Saqib, the son of former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar since last year.

On April 27, four state institutions—the IB, the FIA, the PTA and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra)—filed miscellaneous applications, seeking recusal of Justice Sattar from hearing the case.

However, the court on April 29 dismissed the applications while also imposing a fine of Rs0.5 million on each institution. In its 40-page written order unveiled on Saturday, the court noted that the recusal applications were mala fide and frivolous.

“Prima facie, [they were] part of a collusive scheme to intimidate the Presiding Judge into disqualifying himself from hearing the instant matters.”

Also read: IHC rejects IB's request to withdraw plea for Justice Sattar's recusal

The court noted that Rs0.5 million cost imposed on each applicant shall be paid personally by the public official or officials within each organization who authorized such application.

“As the learned Additional Attorney General and the representatives of [the] FIA and [the] IB have failed to satisfy the court that the applications are duly authorized, let [the] FIA and [the] IB file their reports explaining the legal framework within which such organizations exercise authority.

“[They will also] identify the relevant officials who are authorized to make representations on behalf of [the] FIA and [the] IB along with an affidavit filed by [FIA] Director General and [IB] Director General, respectively, stating who in fact authorized the filing of the instant applications.”

The court also asked the IB and FIA director generals and the PTA chairman to satisfy the court as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for filing “collusive applications”.

The order said these applications were aimed at embarrassing “the proceedings of the court and to interfere with and abuse the process of the court and divert the course of justice within the meaning of Article 204 of the Constitution”.Earlier discussing the applications, the court noted that various passages in the applications filed by the FIA and the IB were identical.

“[This was interesting as] the two applications [were] filed obviously by two separate entities independent of one another. [One of the identical paragraphs was] a quotation of Lord Denning on the matter of bias,” it added.


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