Supreme Court Takes Suo Moto Notice Of Letter By 6 IHC Judges

The suo moto notice was taken after Justice (r) Tasadduq Hussain Jillani refused to head the inquiry commission

Supreme Court Takes Suo Moto Notice Of Letter By 6 IHC Judges

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday decided to take a suo motu notice on a letter penned by six judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which accused security agencies of intimidating, surveilling and interfering in judicial functions.

The case shall be taken up for hearing later this week on April 3. 

The top court has constituted a bench comprising seven judges to hear the suo moto case. 

The bench shall be headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa. Other members of the bench include Senior Puisne Judge Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Jamal Mandokhel, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

The suo moto notice was taken after Justice (retired) Tasadduq Hussain Jillani recused himself from heading the inquiry commission.

Justice (r) Jillani had been named as the head of the commission by the federal government on Saturday after the federal cabinet okayed the formation of the inquiry commission. The commission was formed at the request of the Supreme Court. The request was expressed last week in a meeting between Chief Justice Isa and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the letter written by six judges of the Islamabad High Court.

On Monday, Justice (retired) Jillani wrote to the prime minister and expressed that since the IHC judges had addressed their letter to the Supreme Judicial Council and its chairman, the chief justice, "it would be violative of judicial propriety for me to inquire into a matter which may fall within the jurisdiction of a constitutional body, which is the Supreme Judicial Council or the Supreme Court of Pakistan itself."

"I am also of the view that the terms of the reference for inquiry are strictly not germane to the subject matter of the letter dated March 25, 2024, wherein the six honourable Judges inter alia said that: 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."

Justice Jillani further pointed out that the letter further requested an "institutional consultation" in terms of the mechanism suggested in their letter.

He noted that while the contents of the letter may not strictly fall within the parameters of Article 209 of the Constitution, the Chief Justice of Pakistan, being a paterfamilias, may address and resolve the issues raised in the letter at the institutional level.

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain