Justice Isa-led commission stops working after SC injunction

The audio leaks commission stopped further proceedings on Saturday a day after the Supreme Court passed an order.

Before issuing a written order in this connection, Justice Faez Isa, who heads the judicial panel formed to investigate the matter, remarked they had been barred from moving ahead with the process without even issuing a notice to them.

Justice Isa was critical of Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman for his failure to argue the case before the Supreme Court and noted that the commission would not hold further proceedings; however, they were going to issue the order for Saturday’s deliberations.

The remarks came as the three-member commission, also comprising Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Amir Farooq and Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Tariq Afghan, resumed the hearing.

At the outset, the attorney general read out the order passed by the five-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, which had stayed the audio leaks commission’s proceedings on Friday.

The Supreme Court rules say the parties involved in a matter are heard before passing an order, remarked Justice Isa, adding, “I too understand the constitution a bit. The commission is a party in the matter. Why it has not been issued a notice.”

He also directed the attorney general to provide a copy of the court order if any had been issued and asked him why he was present in the courtroom on Friday. “Were you issued a notice or sitting there by chance?”

Mr Awan replied he was directed verbally to appear before the court and later issued a notice after the hearing. A judge would face the consequences for his whole life if a reference was filed against him on the basis of any allegation, Justice Isa noted.

While inviting Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui to the rostrum, the senior judge observed it was possible that the he might not have any objection to the commission’s proceedings.

Abid Zubairi and Shoaib Shaheen didn’t even bother to attend Saturday’s proceedings. “Were they not supposed to tell what order was passed yesterday (Friday)?”

Referring to the oath, Justice Isa said the inquiry commission had been formed under the Commission of Inquiry Act and added that they (the judges) were subservient to Allah Almighty only and not any other person.

Grilling Shoaib, the senior judge said he [Shoaib] was violating the Lawyers Practice and Procedure Act while appearing on TV screen. “They want to teach us law. According to rules, a lawyer cannot discuss his case on media.”

He said the petitioners were telling them that they could not hear the matter as there was a stay order. The lawyers’ code of conduct had been thrown to the bin, he remarked.

“We will now be told through TV talk shows that we are violating the constitution,” Justice Isa said and noted that the judges could not reply in TV shows.

He said it must be established who was releasing the audios and whether these were genuine or not. It was possible that the audios had been released by the people appearing in the leaks.

He further noted it could only be established once the matter was probed, adding that there was talk about giving money to a judge but stay order had been issued to stop investigation.

He grilled the attorney general for not raising these points before the apex court on Friday and mentioned that privacy was only about home and that no one could sneak into anyone’s home. However, he raised a question whether the cameras installed outside and recording everything were also a violation of privacy.

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