'Physical Fight' Between Judges In CJP's Chambers Narrowly Avoided Today, Asad Toor Says

'Physical Fight' Between Judges In CJP's Chambers Narrowly Avoided Today, Asad Toor Says
As Pakistan's ongoing constitutional crisis worsens day by day, it seems that any reported rapprochement between Chief Justice (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and judges who disagree with him, including senior puisne judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa, was shortlived. After today's proceedings on a constitutional petition to block a bill that would curtail the CJP's powers, and the meeting of the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP), the CJP invited judges who had dissented with him to his chambers. However, a meeting that began in a cordial atmosphere soon devolved into arguments and raised voices which could be heard throughout the Supreme Court. The matter deteriorated so much so that journalist Asad Toor alleges that the judges almost came to blows, but such an outcome was thankfully avoided.

Mainstream media reported that the CJP and his successor Justice Isa were 'on the same page' once they met after a sequence of judgments that challenged the CJP's administration as well as a recent judgment authored by Justice Isa. Analysts presumed that this newfound harmony would help lower the country's political temperatures and also restore the judiciary's integrity as it would be better oriented to finding a way out of the year-long crisis Pakistan has remained plunged in. But such hopes were dashed after the alleged confrontation in the Chief Justice's chambers in the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan.

Journalist Asad Toor, who reports on Pakistan's apex court, spoke of an "unusual development" at the SC today in his recent vlog. Toor gave exclusive details of the above-referred incident and termed it an extremely concerning development, as "it seems that the lava is exploding". He delves into a plethora of accusations against the judges, from impropriety to corruption to foregoing the process of justice to appease 'handlers' in the establishment. Toor then says that today's meeting of the JCP, which according to him "was a formality" but held in an amiable atmosphere, the CJP invited Justice Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah to his chamber.

According to Toor's sources, another member of the JCP, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, was already present in the CJP's chambers. Justice Ahsan is known to be very close to the CJP, and often has lunch with the chief adjudicator in his SC chambers, according to Asad Toor. Without going into too much details to "protect the sanctity of the court and not make it controversial", Toor says that the meeting in the CJP's chambers went towards acrimony instead of a positive direction. "The acrimony was so intense that, despite the Chief Justice's chamber being a huge room, sources say that judges were close to fisticuffs with each other," Asad Toor says, and adds that the CJP's chamber is on the third floor of the SC, but the heated argument in the CJP's chambers were so loud that they were echoing throughout the Supreme Court.

"Extremely harsh words were exchanged, which I cannot detail here," Toor remarks in a despondent tone, as he continues to report on today's "extremely worrisome" incident.

"After that, the three honourable judges - Justice Isa, Justice Masood and Justice Shah - left the CJP's chambers and came back to Justice Isa's chambers. Other judges - Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, and Justice Aminuddin Khan - joined them in Justice Isa's chambers. While they were meeting in Justice Isa's chambers, the honourable CJP had called judges of 'his faction' - Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Hasan Askree Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed - for a meeting in his chambers," Asad Toor reports.

"It was being anticipated that a press release might come out, but that did not happen," Toor says, but says that "it seems after today's incident that there is a complete breakdown" at the apex court. Toor does not see any hope or possibility for a negotiated resolution out of the gaping fracture that exists on the Supreme Court today. "This has never happened before at the Supreme Court, that things deteriorated to such a level," Toor concludes, as he asks CJP Justice Umar Ata Bandial to exhibit leadership capabilities and bring all judges of the apex court together, "otherwise you will be a failed leader".