Intimidation Of Judges: Balochistan's Bar Council Throws Its Hat In The Ring

In a petition submitted to the Supreme Court, the council urged the Supreme Court to direct the federal government to deal with those involved in such acts 

Intimidation Of Judges: Balochistan's Bar Council Throws Its Hat In The Ring

Supporting the stance of six judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges regarding the interference of executive and agencies in judicial functions, the Balochistan Bar Council (BBC) on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court to direct the federal government to deal with those involved in such acts in accordance with the law.

"The allegations by Justice (Retired) Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, the letter by six judges of IHC and its aftermath is a fitting time for this court to examine either intelligence agencies are acting and functioning within their domain and mandate, and if not, then to whom they are held answerable and responsible," stated the petition filed by the council.

"The Petitioner (BBC) and other members of the Bar seriously believe that an independent judiciary and access to justice are the rights of every citizen," read the petition filed by Advocate Ajmal Ghaffar Toor.

"It is the duty of the state to provide adequate resources to enable the judiciary to properly perform its functions, hence this petition," it stated.

The council argued that there is a systematic and continuous attempt being made by certain visible and invisible hands within the executive branch of the government to intimidate judges into subjugation and permanently fetter the independence of the judiciary, which, in effect, violates the right to access to justice. 

"It violates Article 4, 9, 10, 10-A and 25 of the constitution," the petition contended, adding that the independence of judiciary is the basic feature of the Constitution.

It further added that there is a policy on part of executive, which is being implemented through operatives, to intimidate judges and those who are involved in this act are acting beyond their constitutional mandate. 

"For this reason the petitioners requests that a full court comprising of all judges of the Supreme Court hear the issue and pass the apposite order(s)," the council requested in its petition.

It is the right of every citizen to have access to justice and an independent judiciary, which is under threat.

"Judges must be free, but obliged, to decide on their own. Judges must be set free from influence or external control," the petition further said, adding that judges must be insulated against and independent from any and all sources of influence.

"This includes all forms of coercion, threat or harassment, direct or indirect; whether from government, politicians, persons in authority, relatives, neighbours, interested parties, fellow judges, chief justices, judicial bodies or organisations."

It is pertinent to mention that Chief Justice Isa had hinted at constituting a full court to hear the suo moto notice on the matter.

However, according to the roster issued by the Supreme Court for April 30, a larger bench led by CJP Qazi Faez Isa and comprising a total of six judges of the top court will hear the case. The roster has been approved by the three-member committee of the judges under the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act 2023. 

Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (SCBAP) Additional Secretary Shahbaz Khosa and Vice President Umar Hayat Sindhu have also approached the top court, supporting the stance adopted by six judges of the IHC. 

In their petition, they have revealed that no meeting of SCBAP's Executive Body has been called despite repeated requests. 

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