The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard the petitions against the audio leaks inquiry commission and reserved the verdict on the government’s objections on larger bench.
A five-member larger bench headed by the chief justice of Pakistan heard the pleas.
The federal government and the inquiry commission have raised objections over the bench.
Objections were also raised against Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar.
Justice Shoaib Shaheen remarked that the basis of bench change plea must be examined. The justice also questioned have we already accepted the audios as valid?
“This will become a very easy method of blackmailing. Fake audios will be made by any fake person,” he cautioned.
Justice Shoaib remarked the court only directed to hold elections and then audios started coming on and what have been not said in talk shows.
At the outset of the hearing, CJP Bandial responding to the objections raised by government over the bench told Attorney General Mansoor Usman that “ You are missing one thing that Chief Justice of Pakistan is a constitutional post.“
He remarked that centre formed a commission without informing him.
The CJP directed AGP to give arguments on the aforementioned points, adding understand the law before reading references to judicial decisions.
On Which, AGP contended that “He will first give arguments on the formation of bench.”
“ Are you going to give arguments that 3 among 5 members are controversial, and then you have to tell on what basis you assumed that there is a conflict of 3 judges?“ asked CJP Bandial.
Top Judge went on to remark that “I would like you to focus on other more important issues, as second issue is about the independence of the judiciary.”
Attorney General read out the TORs of the Audio Leaks Commission and told the apex court that “One of the leaked audios is related to the Chief Justice’s mother-in-law.”
CJP Banidal replied “Is it your case at this point that the audios are prima facie authentic?” AGP said the purpose of forming commission was to probe into audio leaks.
Meanwhile, Justice Muneeb remarked if the matter was not verified then why ministers held press talks on leaks, adding it was not a good move even though audio leaks were played during presser.
“I don’t know if anyone held a press conference,” said the Attorney General.
Justice Munib remarked that It was collective responsibility of the cabinet to come forward on this important issue.
The CJP remarked that first the judges were disrespected and then said the authenticity of the videos could be verified.
“It is very easy to record the conversation of a judge that you do not want on a case,” Justice Akhtar observed, adding there are legal reasons behind separating from a case.
That is why the government wants to take this case to its logical end, the AGP said.
At this, the CJP asked who planted these audios. “Has the government tried to find out who is behind this?”
The AGP replied that the government wanted to look at this aspect too through the leaks commission. He added that the commission will also review how the calls were recorded.
“According to the government, these audios are alleged so far,” AGP Awan told the court and stressed that any minister’s personal comment does not represent the cabinet stance.
He further said if the issue arises regarding all the judge of the Supreme Court, then the doctrine of necessity could be implemented.
Changing of the bench would not rob the petitioners of their rights, the AGP remarked, urging the court to consider the plea for changing the bench.
Another petitioner Abid Zuberi’s lawyer Shoaib Shaheen argued that the federal government was a party to the elections case and it was also forming this commission.
If the TORs mentioned the person who recorded the audios then it would have mattered. He added that the question here was the executive’s meddling in the judiciary.