After hearing arguments of identical petitioners on maintainability of pleas on Friday, seeking formation of independent commission to determine authenticity of alleged audiotape of former Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar over Sharif’s conviction, Islamabad High Court (IHC) sought assistance of Attorney General for Pakistan in the matter.
In November last year, President Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) Salahud Din Ahmad and member judicial commission of Pakistan from Sindh, Syed Haider Imam Rizvi, invoked jurisdiction of the IHC, making Federation of Pakistan and others as respondents.
They contended that the plea that the audiotape attributed to former CJP Saqib Nisar gives the impression the judiciary is under pressure from external forces. Substantiating their claim, they urged the court to constitute an independent commission to determine if the audiotape is fake or real for the protection of independence of the judiciary.
On Friday, issuing a two-page order in the case, a copy of which is available with TLTP, a single-member bench of the IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah sought assistance of chief law officer of the country Khalid Jawed Khan.
President SHCBA Salahuddin Ahmed, while arguing to substantiate his claim that the petition in hand is maintainable, placed on record an internet report that an audio was sent to a forensic firm in the United States.
Upon which the bench said in its written order, “With the able assistance of the petitioner, the report has been perused- The report is inconclusive because it does not mention the exact audio which had been subjected to forensic analysis”.
The bench said that admittedly neither the original audio is available nor the documents obtained from the internet can be relied upon. Responding to the court query, the petitioner apprised that the alleged audio was in his possession but it has been displayed by the media.
Salahuddin Ahmed submitted that he would be satisfied if the audio was sent for forensic analysis to a credible firm or company as per recommendation of the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP). To which, the bench said, “The learned AGP is expected to assist the Court regarding the suggestion and recommend credible firms/company”.
The IHC CJ further expressed that the petitioner is also expected to obtain the audio and place it on record saying the petitioner shall be at liberty to seek the assistance of the Pakistan Bar Council. The court noted that the proceedings in the petition in hand have a direct nexus with a matter subjudice before the IHC saying the petitioner and the AGP are also expected to assist the court regarding consequences in the context of the pending appeals.
The IHC’ CJ observed that all the matters were related to a pending appeal, referring to Maryam Nawaz’s appeal against her conviction in the Avenfield reference and questioned what effect would be on that pending appeal if the court decided to order an inquiry in response to pleading in hand.
“It seems that those whose appeals are underway do not want to take these matters to the court- If this court orders an inquiry, then it will have an effect on all pending cases,” Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked.
The bench also asked President SHCBA to apprise the court as to who would bear the cost of forensic analysis. Responding to the court query Ahmed suggested the law ministry could do so to which the CJ Athar Minallah observed as to why money of taxpayers be spent on it?”
Later, the bench adjourned hearing of the matter till January 28.