The Justice Isa-led judicial commission probing audio leaks raised objections on Wednesday over the larger bench hearing petitions against the formation of the commission, and maintained that it was "not appropriate" for the bench to hear the petitions.
The government on May 20 formed a commission - led by Supreme Court puisne judge Justice Qazi Faez Isa, comprising Balochistan High Court (BHC) Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq - to probe into the genuineness of some audio leaks concerning serving and former members of the judiciary and their impact on the independence of the judiciary.
A number of petitioners including former prime minister Imran Khan challenged the formation of the commission. Later, a five-judge Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed, suspended the probe panel’s proceedings while hearing the petitions.
In a concise statement responding to a petition, the commission maintained that “it would not be appropriate for this bench to hear these petitions”.
“The oath taken by the Chief Justices and Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts require them to act, ‘in accordance with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the law’,” it detailed.
The statement said that the judges were required to “abide by the code of conduct issued by the Supreme Court Judicial Council” and not allow their “personal interest to influence their ‘official conduct’ or ‘official decisions’”.
Quoting the code of conduct requirements, it continued that a judge “must decline resolutely to act in a case involving his own interest, including those of persons whom he regards and treats as near relatives or close friends”.
Moreover, “a Judge must refuse to deal with any case in which he has a connection with one party or its lawyer more than the other, or even with both parties and their lawyers”.
“To ensure that justice is not only done, but is also seen to be done, a Judge must avoid all possibility of his opinion or action in any case being swayed by any consideration of personal advantage, either direct or indirect.”
The commission’s concise statement said that one of the audio recordings “allegedly pertains to the mother-in-law of the Hon’ble Chief Justice”, while Justice Munib Akhtar “may also be mentioned in the said recording”.
It further said that “in another audio recording reference is made to case fixation before a particular bench” headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan.
The statement also argued that “members of the Commission are bound to act in accordance with the law”, adding that the Constitution, law and the code of conduct must also be observed by the members of the commission.