SC takes notice of Vawda’s presser

IHC issues statement responding to senator’s April 30 letter

Senator Faisal Vawda (L) and Islamabad High Court Justice Babar Sattar (R). PHOTO: FILE


The apex court on Thursday took suo motu notice of an explosive press conference by Senator Faisal Vawda, in which he criticized the judiciary and asked Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Babar Sattar to present evidence supporting his allegations about spy agencies meddling in the judiciary.

A three-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Irfan Saadat Khan and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan will take up the matter at 9:30 am today (Friday). The Supreme Court has also issued notices to respondents, including Attorney-General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, Vawda said it was about time for Justice Sattar to back up his claims about agencies’ meddling in judicial matters with solid evidence. He said a lack of proof raised several questions about the credibility of the judges’ allegations.
Justice Sattar was one of six IHC judges who, in March this year, accused the country’s intelligence agencies of using coercive tactics to pressure judges of Islamabad’s lower and high courts.

Later, in a letter to IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Sattar reportedly disclosed that a “top official” from the security establishment had threatened him to back off from scrutinizing surveillance procedures in an audio leaks case.

Vawda said if there was any evidence of interference in the judiciary, then it must be presented, as the court does not proceed without evidence or proof. "My reputation was tarnished, but now we will publicly disgrace those who want to tarnish the reputation of Pakistan. Stop targeting institutions—enough is enough," he added.

During the hearing of a case related to amendments in the law governing the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Thursday, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa referred to this statement by Vawda, stating that “some people are trying to intimidate the judiciary.”

In his press conference, Senator Faisal Vawda also noted that the IHC had not replied to his letter dated April 30, in which he had sought details regarding Babar Sattar’s elevation as an IHC judge during the term of former IHC Chief

Justice Athar Minallah, who now serves as a judge in the SC.

Interestingly, the IHC registrar on Thursday issued a statement in response to Vawda’s queries.
The letter noted that the information sought by the IHC from a lawyer being considered for elevation or appointment as a judge does not include information regarding his residency or citizenship of any country other than Pakistan.

“Such residency/citizenship is not a disqualification for a judge under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973,” it said

The letter further noted that the conversations between a potential candidate for appointment as a judge or his interview with the IHC chief justice or senior puisne judge are not communications of which record is maintained and minutes taken.

Also read: IHC responds to Vawda on Justice Babar Sattar’s citizenship

“Hon'ble Mr. Justice Athar Minallah was the hon'ble chief justice of this court at the time of appointment of Hon'ble Mr. Justice Babar Sattar as judge.

“His lordship disclosed during the hearing of the suo motu proceedings in relation to the [IHC judges’] letter, which were telecasted live on TV, that the matter of Justice Sattar having a Green Card was discussed during the meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) where his name was recommended for approval.

“This court does not maintain a record of the discussion that transpires in the JCP. Even there is no requirement to refer to Article 19-A of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, which could only be referred to when there was any privileged information available to the institutions,” it added.

Vawda, who was disqualified for having dual nationality at the time of the submission of his nomination papers ahead of the July 2018 general elections, asked in the Wednesday press conference why the restriction of renouncing one’s dual nationality applied only to politicians.

Meanwhile, IHC judge Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri on Thursday imposed a ban on officials of secret agencies from entering courtrooms. The police officers stationed outside the court confirmed this development.



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