Audio leaks commission interferes in judiciary’s internal matters, observes CJP Bandial

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Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on Friday observed that the formation of the government-appointed judicial commission — constituted last week to probe audio leaks which have surfaced on social media over the last few months — “interfered in the judiciary’s internal matters”.

The top judge passed these remarks as a five-judge bench heard a set of four petitions moved by Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Abid Shahid Zuberi, SCBA Secretary Muqtedir Akhtar Shabbir, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Advocate Riaz Hanif Rahi seeking to declare the constitution of the audio commission illegal.

The bench comprised CJP Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed.

The commission, headed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, was formed on May 20 under Section 3 of the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 2017 and is required to conclude the task within a month.

Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Aamer Farooq are also included in the commission which will have “all the power to fix responsibility against the delinquents for their alleged role behind phone tapping and could exercise authority to constitute special teams consisting of experts, or form an international team and seek international cooperation or exercise powers” under the Criminal Code of Procedure.

During the hearing today, the CJP said that there were errors in the notification issued by the government for the formation of the commission.

“The Constitution gives complete freedom to the judiciary,” he remarked. “The investigation that was supposed to be conducted by the institutions was entrusted to judges.”

Justice Bandial further said, “We have no other structure but the power of morality and justice.”

After two-hour-long proceedings, the court reserved its verdict on the petitions and said that an appropriate order would be issued today.