Phone-tapping: SC to take up ISI’s plea for in-camera hearing on Wednesday

The agency had requested the apex court to hold in-camera proceedings of 19-year-old suo moto case

Hasnaat Malik June 15, 2015
The bench will decide whether further proceeding of case should be held in camera or not. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has decided to take up Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)’s plea to hold in-camera proceedings of the 19-year-old suo motu case regarding phone-tapping in camera on June 17.

The three judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprised of Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Maqbool are expected to hear ISI’s plea in their chamber at 2:00pm on Wednesday.

The bench will decide whether further proceedings of the case should be held in-camera or not.

On June 3, the ISI had requested the apex court to hold proceedings of the suo motu case behind closed doors.

The agency, through the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sajid Ilyas Bhatti, had submitted a classified report to the apex court at the last hearing, requesting further proceedings of the case to be held ‘in-camera,’ claiming that the issue was sensitive.

Upon this, the bench had asked DAG to appear along with a responsible officer of the ISI in chamber to justify their request.

The bench also asked senior counsel Abdul Hafiz Pirzada, who was present in the courtroom, to assist in the matter.

The bench had revealed that at least 6,523 phone numbers were tapped by ISI in the February, 6,819 in March, 6,742 in April and 6,856 in May.

Hearing the 19-year-old suo motu case, the top court had sought a reply from federal government regarding the law under which phone calls are tapped by intelligence agencies. It directed Bhatti to furnish a concise statement in this regard within three weeks.

In 1996, then chief justice Sajjad Ali Shah took notice of the recording of phone calls by the intelligence agencies after a spying device was found connected to his phone.

Later, former president (late) Farooq Ahmed Leghari’s counsel – during the Benazir Bhutto dismissal case proceedings –cited before the Supreme Court phone tapping of judges by the Benazir regime as a major justification for her government’s ouster.


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