Pakistani High Court Judges Accuse Intelligence Agencies of Judicial Interference

A letter signed by six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges demanded the SJC headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa initiate a judicial convention against such interference in judicial affairs.

Islamabad: In an unprecedented move, six judges of the Islamabad High Court sought intervention by the Supreme Judicial Council against the alleged interference in the working of the judiciary by Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agencies.



A letter signed by six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges demanded the SJC headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa initiate a judicial convention against such interference in judicial affairs.



The six judges who signed the March 25 dated letter include Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz.

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The letter also advocated adopting a stance to ensure the judiciary’s independence through the convention.

The SJC is the highest body authorised to take action against judges of high and supreme courts.

“We are writing to seek guidance from the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) with regard to the duty of a judge to report and respond to actions on part of members of the executive, including operatives of intelligence agencies, that seek to interfere with discharge of his/ her official functions and qualify as intimidation, as well as the duty to report any such actions that come to his/her attention in relation to colleagues and/or members of the courts that the High Court supervises,” the letter stated



It goes on to highlight the interference of the executive and agencies in judicial matters, including the kidnapping and torture of the brother-in-law of a high court judge to put pressure on the judge regarding a case.

“We will also note that the code of conduct for judges prescribed by SJC provides no guidance on how judges must react to and or report incidents that are tantamount to intimidation and interfere with judicial independence,” it said.

The judges further said they “believe it is imperative to inquire into and determine whether there exists a continuing policy on the part of the executive branch of the state, implemented by intelligence operatives who report to the executive branch, to intimidate judges, under threat of coercion or blackmail, to engineer judicial outcomes in politically consequential matters.”



The development came days after the top court declared the removal of former IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui illegal, directing that he may now be considered a retired judge.

The verdict noted that the SJC proceeded against Justice Siddiqui on the “assumption that the truth or falseness of the allegations levelled” by the former judge was “irrelevant”.

Siddiqui was sacked on October 11, 2018, by the SJC based on a speech he had delivered weeks ago at the Rawalpindi Bar Association in which he accused the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — the powerful intelligence agency of the country– of influencing the court proceedings and forming benches of choice.



In their letter, the IHC judges supported Justice Siddiqui’s request to investigate the allegations made by him.

The letter is believed to be unprecedented as it officially highlights the alleged involvement of executive and intelligence agencies in the matters of the judiciary and seeks the support of the SJC, the highest body, to take action against judges and provide guidance on such matters.

Meanwhile, legal community and politicians demanded an independent probe into the allegations following the stunning letter by IHC judges.

The IHC Bar Association (IHCBA) “strongly condemned the interference of one institution into the matters of another institution” and demanded the chief justice for a “transparent inquiry” into the matter and that action be taken against those involved.

The association pledged support for the judiciary’s independence and “would take every step needed for the supremacy of the Constitution and the law”.



“The IHCBA would not even hesitate from holding a lawyers representative convention, countrywide lawyers convention, strike, hunger strike and running a movement if needed for the judiciary’s independence,” it asserted.

The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) also demanded “immediate action against those intelligence agencies and their personnel involved in such nefarious activities and [that] they be punished for undermining and subverting of the Constitution and the law”.

Condemning the alleged interference in the “strongest terms”, the LHCBA said it was a “serious threat to the rule of law and independence of judiciary”.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Additional Secretary Sardar Shahbaz Ali Khosa in an open letter urged the chief justice to take suo motu notice of the matter under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and conduct a “thorough and transparent (live) hearing” of the case.

He called for an “immediate and rigorous scrutiny” into the allegations. “The judiciary must be a safe haven for the pursuit of justice, untouched by the shadow of coercion, fear, or undue influence,” Khosa said.



The Balochistan Bar Council expressed its concerns over the matter and said the alleged interference in judicial matters was “condemnable and unacceptable in any circumstances” and also asked Chief Justice Isa to take a suo motu notice of the allegations.

Separately, a statement on the X account of the incarcerated former premier Imran Khan welcomed the six brave judges for highlighting the “alarming state of affairs of the higher judiciary” and called for an “impartial inquiry” into the matter.

“This letter with its two annexures, brings on the record the brazen and shameful interference of the intelligence agencies in judicial matters, which is a damning indictment against the independence of the judiciary in the country,” the statement read.

“The fact that the judges have been intimidated and coerced into giving judgments based on political expediency raises a lot of questions on the fairness of the courts and their judgments over the last two years,” it added.

Highlighting that a “wave of political victimisation has been unleashed” against the party, the statement states that “courts have been unable to assert their authority or dispense justice”.



Also, the PTI chief Gohar Khan sought the safety of the judges who had written the letter as well as their families.

“We also demand that the inquiry, investigation and proceedings are conducted by the SC in open court. This is extremely important for the independence of the judiciary,” he told journalists.

Pakistan Peoples Party human rights cell president Farhatullah Babar said that the contents of the letter were “beyond wildest imagination”. “Eternal gratitude to judges for standing up and calling [a] bluff at [a] huge risk,” he said.


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