IHC judges ‘propose contempt proceedings’ against meddling in court affairs

ISLAMABAD: In compliance with the Supreme Court’s April 3 order, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges, in a unanimous stance, proposed a “contempt proceeding” against any meddling in judicial affairs, revealed sources privy to the matter.

This was stated in the proposal submitted by the IHC judges to the Registrar of the Supreme Court earlier this week.

Subject to the institutional consensus, the high court should exercise its contempt of court powers to counter meddling, the sources said quoting the IHC proposal on how to stop meddling in the judicial matters.

Earlier this week the IHC full court meeting was held today with Chief Justice Aamer Farooq in the chair to finalise proposals before submission to the top court in connection with a matter related to the alleged interference the spy agencies in judicial affairs.

Last month, six judges of the IHC — comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Justice Babar Sattar, Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz — wrote a letter to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), seeking its guidance on “interference” of the intelligence agencies in the courts’ affairs.

“We are writing to seek guidance from the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) with regard to the duty of a judge to report and respond to actions on [the] part of members of the executive, including operatives of intelligence agencies, that seek to interfere with [the] discharge of his/her official functions and qualify as intimidation, as well as the duty to report any such actions that come to his/her attention in relation to colleagues and/or members of the courts that the high court supervises,” read the latter.

Later, the apex court initiated suo motu proceedings on the letter and sought a proposal from the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), high courts and the federal government in this regard.

In their recommendations came to the fore today, the IHC judges also proposed a “high court administrative committee” to make a final decision on matters related to the alleged interference in the court’s affairs, the sources added.

The committee then decide whether to look into the matter on the administrative or judicial side.

In view of the seriousness of the matter, the committee should be empowered to send the case to the “full court”, the well-placed sources said quoting the judges’ recommendations.

A proposed 6 to 7-page draft proposing amendments to the judges’ code of conduct was also included in the recommendations.

The draft suggests that it should be made obligatory for the civil, session and high court judges to report any kind of interference in the court’s affairs within seven days of the incident, the insiders added.

The judges would inform the inspection judge about the alleged meddling, it added. The inspection judge will 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.

The sources further said the judges suggested there should be an “institutional response” to any kind of meddling.

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