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SC Reminds Govt Charges Of Spying On Judges May Lead To Its Sacking

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Supreme Court judge Justice Maqbool Baqar has reminded the ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government that in 1996, a democratically elected government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was ‘removed’ on charges of judges’ surveillance.

The Express Tribune reported that Justice Baqar, while hearing the petition filed against a presidential reference seeking removal of Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday, said: “Keep in mind, one of the elected governments has earlier been removed due to spying on judiciary.”

The top judge reminded the federal government of the grave consequences of surveillance against judges while indirectly referring to sacking of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s second government in November 1996, when ex-president Farooq Khan Laghari dissolved the PPP led government under Article 58 2(b), accusing it of a number of shortcomings, failures and deviations including spying on judges. When Benazir challenged the dissolution in the apex court, the defendant presented various records showing that intelligence agencies tapped phones and chambers of many judges.

Justice Faez Isa attorney Muneer A Malik has already told the apex court that the SC judge can offer a sealed affidavit explaining how he knew that the government conducted a surveillance operation to discover his family members’ foreign assets. “The federation’s reply itself shows that the Asset Recovery Unit (ARU) hired a private investigation agency in the UK to find out every place that the petitioner’s children had resided in the last 10-years. If the federation is willing to pay a private investigation agency to spy on the petitioner, is it farfetched to imagine that they also used state intelligence agencies for such purpose,” he had said.

On Thursday, the full-court – headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial – directed the government’s counsel to satisfy the court on allegations of Justice Isa that the reference was filed against him with a mala fide intent, and that the government carried out his surveillance. Justice Bandial said if the government’s mala fide intention or malice is established then the apex court would quash the SJC proceedings against Justice Isa.

Dr Naseem argued that the petitioner’s entire defence was based on his spouse and children being independents and that he is not bound to disclose their properties. He argued that the word ‘misconduct’ was not defined in the Constitution or in any relevant documents. Dr Naseem also referred to a 1962 judgment of the Supreme Court which said if there was a violation of a law by a judge it would be misconduct. The SC later adjourned hearing till today (Friday).

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