In a recent development surrounding the audio-leaks inquiry commission, Justice Qazi Faez Isa expressed his concerns and raised questions about the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) failing to inform the Supreme Court about the already clarified contentions. Justice Isa, appointed as the head of the three-member audio leaks commission by the federal government, pointed out that neither he nor his legal team received any notification regarding the previous day’s Supreme Court hearing. Furthermore, the other two members of the commission were also absent.
Consultation Requirement for High Court Judges
The Supreme Court bench, in its order, emphasized the need for consultation with the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) for nominating high court judges to the inquiry. In response, Justice Isa questioned whether AGP Mansoor Awan was informed about the five-member bench hearing led by CJP Umar Ata Bandial. The AGP stated that he was verbally instructed to be present in the courtroom but not officially notified.
Justice Isa raised an important point, questioning the validity of preventing the inquiry commission from continuing its work when it had not been officially notified. He argued that such an order should only be issued after hearing all parties involved, following the rules of the Supreme Court. Additionally, Justice Isa asked the AGP if any of the four constitutional petitions filed against the inquiry commission specifically named the commission as a respondent. The AGP confirmed that two of the petitions did name the inquiry commission as a respondent.
The Supreme Court’s Oversight and Stay Order
Justice Isa further questioned how the Supreme Court could supervise the higher courts and issue a stay order when the proceedings of the inquiry had just begun. Dissatisfied with the situation, Justice Isa adjourned the second hearing of the audio leaks commission, which included Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.
The Role of the Inquiry Commission
The commission, led by Justice Isa, convened for the first time after being established by the federal government. In the initial session, the commission clarified its role as an inquiry body open to public observation and participation. Justice Isa explicitly stated that the commission’s purpose was to investigate the facts surrounding the eight audio leaks that surfaced on social media in recent months. The commission aims to conduct a fair inquiry without targeting any specific judge.
The Supreme Court’s Order and Preliminary Submission
A day before these developments, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Justice Shahid Waheed, issued an order while hearing four petitions against the federal government’s formation of the inquiry commission. During the hearing, AGP Awan sought permission to make a preliminary submission, suggesting that CJP Bandial recuse himself from the bench due to a potential conflict of interest. However, the order maintained that seeking permission from the CJP is a constitutional principle followed in the formation of commissions that involve sitting judges.
Inquiry Commission’s Second Sitting
During the second sitting of the inquiry commission, Justice Isa questioned the statement made by the Supreme Court Bar Association’s lawyer, Shoaib Shaheen, suggesting that a reference should be filed against a judge based solely on accusations. Justice Isa emphasized the importance of conducting a thorough probe before making such allegations against any judge. He highlighted his own membership in the Supreme Judicial Council and his familiarity with the rules and Constitution of Pakistan. Justice Isa also noted that neither Abid Zuberi, the current president of SCBA and petitioner in the case, nor advocate Shaheen attended the commission’s sitting on Saturday.