Govt rejects impression of interference in judiciary

Attorney general claims there is also wrong impression of conflict between executive, judiciary  Asks for in-camera hearing of surveillance-related matters n Info minister says AGP’s request for in-camera briefing on national security issues taken out of context  Law minister denies impression that judiciary is being pressurised by any institution.

ISLAMABAD   -   Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan on Tuesday strongly denied the impression of interference in the powers of judiciary by any institution.

While addressing a press conference he said that a wrong impression was made on a letter written to the chief justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC). He said that it was also a wrong impression that if there was a conflict between executive and judiciary.

The AGP said that it was essential to clarify the issue as the IHC judges’ letter is being presented in a wrong way. He said, it was requested to hear surveillance-related matters in-camera so that the sensitive information wouldn’t go in public domain, and this was communicated to the relevant quarters, he added. He stated that office of the AGP and the AAG act as a “bridge” to facilitate communication, adding that no one could interfere in the affairs of judiciary and he vehemently denied such impression.

In a rare appearance on media, AGP Mansoor Usman Awan disproved the allegations that the government or any state institution interfering in judicial matters.

Awan’s remarks came shortly after Justice Babar Sattar’s letter to the Chief Justice Islamabad High Court Aamer Farooq was discussed on the media. The sources said that Justice Babar’s letter mentioned; “In writ petition 2758/2023, the Court has put on notice the heads of intelligence and investigation agencies, including ISI, IB and FIA, apart from relevant ministries of the federal government and statutory regulators such as PTA and PEMRA.

“The question before the court is whether there exists a legal regime permitting surveillance of citizens. At some point during the hearing of the case, I was delivered messages on behalf of top officials in the security establishment asking me to “back-off” from extensive scrutiny of the existence and mode of surveillance.

He added, “I paid no heed to such intimidatory tactics and did not find that such messages created a risk of substantial detriment to the administration of justice. The current malicious campaign’s focus on cases involving PTA appears to be an intimidatory tactic to influence court proceedings.”

The AG said, “According to my information, no officer of any security establishment has contacted or can contact [any member of the judiciary]. And the contact that was made, was done through the AGP’s office to ensure sensitive information was not made public.”

In March, six judges of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) reached out to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) seeking clarity on the alleged intrusion of executive members, including intelligence operatives, in the judicial matters.

Six judges of the IHC—Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz—penned a letter to the SJC led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, expressing concerns about the “interference” of intelligence agencies in the affairs of the courts.

‘No compromise on national security issues’

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Attaullah Tarar on Tuesday said there would be no compromise on national security issues that needed to be discussed at appropriate forums through proper procedure.

Addressing a news conference along with Minister for Law and Justice Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar, he said the Attorney General of Pakistan was the representative of state and his request for in-camera briefing on a specific national security issue, had been taken out of context. He pointed out the Attorney General had made the request just for the sake of national security.

Atta Tarar underlined the need of fully understanding the sensitivity of national interest, adding that the Attorney General had already clarified his position on the issue. He said the national security issues should be discussed at the appropriate forums. “If a matter needs discussion, the chief justice has the authority to call a full-court,” he added. The minister expressed the optimism that the institutions would collectively work for the national interests of the country.

Also, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar says the cabinet has approved re-constitution of IT Tribunals to swiftly dispose of tax related cases worth billions of rupees pending in the courts.

While addressing a press conference he said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has foregone his powers to appoint the judicial and technical members and now all Chartered Accountants will be hired through a proper channel.

Alluding to the letter written by a judge of the Islamabad High Court to Chief Justice of Pakistan, Azam Nazeer Tarar rejected the impression that judiciary is being pressurised by any institution.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Attaullah Tarar said the request for an in-camera briefing by the Attorney General of Pakistan was made in view of the national security.

He made it clear that no compromise will be made on national security.

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