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Security establishment’s top officials conveyed message to back off, Justice Sattar tells IHC CJ

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ISLAMABAD: In a major development, Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Justice Babar Sattar on Tuesday formally informed Chief Justice Aamer Farooq about the alleged interference in the court’s affairs by the security establishment in judicial affairs, said sources.

In a “letter” to IHC CJ Farooq, Justice Sattar said that he was delivered messages on behalf of top officials in the security establishment asking him to “back off” from extensive scrutiny of the existence and mode of surveillance in the audio leak case.

Justice Sattar reported the “incident of meddling” in line with the IHC’s recommendations to deter meddling.

In compliance with the Supreme Court’s April 3 order, the IHC judges, in a unanimous stance, proposed a “contempt proceeding” against any meddling in judicial affairs.

It was also decided that the judges would inform the inspection judge about the alleged meddling and the inspection judge would bring the matter to the knowledge of the chief justice of the high court concerned. “A judge who will not report the alleged meddling within seven days should be considered guilty of misconduct.”

Giving details, Justice Sattar informed the IHC CJ that he did not pay any attention to the “threatening tactic”, said the sources.

“I paid no heed to such intimidatory tactics and did not find that such messages created a risk of substantial detriment to the administering of justice.”

The judge further told the CJ that the court had issued notices to intelligence and probe agencies, concerned ministries, regulatory bodies, FIA, PTA, Pemra and others.

Justice Sattar was among the six judges who had written a letter to the SJC seeking its guidance on “interference” of the intelligence agencies in the courts’ affairs in March.

‘No official from security establishment approached IHC judge’

Speaking about the IHC judge’s alleged letter, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan has said that an “impression is being given as if the relationship between the court and the executive is deteriorating”, the top law officer said in a video statement today.

His statement came after IHC Justice Sattar reportedly wrote a letter to IHC CJ Farooq, claiming that he “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” in the audio leaks case.

The AGP said the communication between state institutions regarding “sensitive matters is imperative in the view of the security situation” that Pakistan has been facing for the last 45 years.

He said such communication involving sensitive matters is liaised by the AGP or advocate general who he said played a role of bridge between judiciary and executive.

AGP Awan said the judge only requested that in the audio leak case, briefing on the matters related to surveillance should be held in-camera.

“Unfortunately, it [request] was perceived that the case should be decided on one side, which was not the case,” he clarified.

“I deny this impression; the content of the letter should be examined to know what has been termed obstruction of justice. Neither any top official from the security establishment approached the IHC judge nor can anyone do.”

Minutes after the AGP delivered a video statement, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said the office of AGP requested the IHC for an in-camera briefing.

“Impression was created as if the matters of the court are being interfered with,” he added.

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