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Govt forms Justice Qazi Faez-led three-member commission to probe audio leaks involving judges, their family members

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has constituted a three-member commission headed by the seniormost judge of the Supreme Court Justice Qazi Faez Isa. The commission will probe audio leaks involving judges, their family members, lawyers, and politicians.

The three-member Commission comprising senior judges will submit its report to the federal government within 30 days. The other two members of the commission are Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan, chief justice of Balochistan High Court, and Justice Aamer Farooq, chief justice of Islamabad High Court.

The government did not include the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court in the commission as his son-in-law is also facing allegations of corruption.

The commission will probe the following audio leaks.

Audio Leaks to be probed

  • Call between former Punjab chief minister and an advocate regarding a sitting judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
  • Call between former Punjab chief minister and an advocate about fixation of some cases before a particular SC bench.
  • Call between former Punjab chief minister and a sitting apex court judge.
  • Call between former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar and a senior lawyer.
  • Call between a lawyer and a journalist on the outcome of a case before a particular SC bench.
  • Call between former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and his party colleague about their links in the apex court.
  • Call between mother-in-law of CJP Umar Ata Bandial and wife of a lawyer regarding SC cases and conversation about an unconstitutional rule.
  • Call between ex-CJP Nisar’s son Najam Saqib and his friend mentioning his father in a political role.

Here are the Terms of reference (TORs) of the Commission

The terms of reference (TORs) of the commission include inquiring about the authenticity of the audio leaks allegedly concerning the judiciary; probing into the accuracy of allegations surfacing on print, electronic, and social media allegedly involving LHC top judge Muhammad Ameer Bhatti’s son-in-law influencing judicial proceedings before the provincial top court; to determine violation, if any, of the integrity of the process of administration of justice, independence of the judiciary, right to fair trial and equality of citizens; to determine the liability incurred by any or all persons named in the alleged audio leaks against or any other person or public office holders including under the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 or any other law; and to determine as to whether any disciplinary proceedings are attracted.

The TORs also include fixing the responsibility of any person or public office holder aiding and abetting by any act in violation of the laws of Pakistan so determined; recommending any necessary legal action by any agency, department or person; inquiring into and fixing responsibility with regards who is making the audio and whether they are fake or fabricated, while also recommending action to be taken against them; and the commission may inquire into any matter related to the case in the interests of justice.

The notification mentioned that the commission shall have all the powers granted to it under the Act and including those mentioned in section 10 of the Act. It directed all executive authorities — in federations or provinces — to comply with and aid the commission in discharging its function as well as complying with its directives.

“The Commission will be entitled to establish a Secretariat and appoint Secretary for the stated inquiry at the cost of the Federal Government. The Attorney General for Pakistan shall assist the Commission and provide the Commission with all documents and material that it requires,” the government’s notification read.

The commission shall initiate the inquiry immediately and conclude the inquiry. The Justice Isa-led commission has been asked to submit its report to the federal government within 30 days, while time will be granted if required by the commission.

Law Minister Azam Tarar’s viewpoint

Federal Minister for Law Azam Nazeer Tarar said that the government did not consult Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial before the formation of the probe panel.

He also said the government did not include LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti in the commission.

Tarar said: “The leaked audios affected the reputation of the institution”.

Law Minister further said that the government has constituted the three-member commission under the Pakistan Commissions of the Inquiry Act, 2017. It authorized the federal government to constitute a commission.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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