Saturday saw Justice Qazi Faez Isa, leader of the audio leaks investigation commission, raise substantial queries concerning the Supreme Court’s (SC) stay order on the commission’s proceedings. The focal point of his questions pertained to the Attorney General of Pakistan’s (AGP) failure to explain to the highest court that the points of contention had already been addressed.
Justice Isa, named as the chief of the federal government-appointed three-member commission probing audio leaks on May 20, pointed out that neither he nor his legal representatives were informed about the Supreme Court hearing that transpired the day before.
His inquiries extended to the AGP, asking whether he had received notice about the previous day’s hearing conducted by a five-judge SC bench, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umar Ata Bandial. The AGP responded, indicating that he was merely instructed verbally to attend the courtroom, without receiving a formal notification.
Questioning the Supreme Court’s ability to oversee the functions of superior courts and issue a stay order when proceedings were just underway, Justice Isa postponed what was to be the commission’s second hearing into the audio leaks. The commission includes Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.
The commission, under Justice Isa’s leadership, had its inaugural meeting last week, subsequent to its formation by the federal government. During this session, the commission established its role as an inquiry body, offering transparency for public observation and participation. Justice Isa underscored that the commission’s purpose was not to operate against any judge, but solely to investigate the veracity of eight audio leaks that had emerged on social media in recent times.
Prior to this, a five-member Supreme Court bench, chaired by the Chief Justice and comprised of Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed, issued a stay order. This order came about while reviewing four petitions submitted by PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Supreme Court Bar Association President Abid Zuberi, and others against the newly formed inquiry commission.
In this context, the AGP, Mansoor Awan, requested to present an initial submission, indicating that Chief Justice Bandial should contemplate stepping away from the bench due to a potential conflict of interest.
However, the order asserted the established constitutional principle, applied frequently in the formation of commissions, which states that permission from the Chief Justice of Pakistan is obligatory whenever a sitting judge is designated as a member of a commission.