PAKISTAN: Acting CJ takes suo motu notice for manhandling of Justice Iftikhar
Acting Chief Justice says he only objected to what he called the media's scandalising of events after the suspension of Iftikhar Chaudhry
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
By Nasir Iqbal
Islamabad --- The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu notice of the police manhandling of the 'suspended' Chief Justice, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
On Tuesday, Justice Chaudhry was roughed up by police for refusing to ride an official car and attempting to march towards the Supreme Court to attend the proceedings of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) against him. His wife and daughters were also reportedly manhandled by policemen.
"I have taken suo motu notice of the incident and directed a full-fledged inquiry to see how police could mistreat him," said Acting Chief Justice Javed Iqbal, adding that it was his decision to take suo motu notice of the incident.
He was talking to reporters after a ceremony held to administer oath to Justice (retd) Hamid Ali Mirza, whose tenure as ad hoc judge of the Supreme Court has been extended for six months from Wednesday. Justice Mirza had been first appointed on ad hoc basis on his retirement as judge of the Supreme Court on September 14, 2005.
Notices have been served on IGP Chaudhry Iftikhar, DIG Islamabad Shahid Nadeem Baloch, SSP Islamabad Capt (retd) Zafar Iqbal Awan and DSP I-9 Circle Jamil Hashmi. They have been asked to appear before the Supreme Court on March 19.
Referring to his appointment as the acting chief justice, Justice Javed Iqbal pointed out that a grave constitutional void would have occurred had he not taken oath as acting chief justice.
He asked if it was possible to keep the post of the acting chief justice vacant when the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Rana Bhagwandas, had been away from the country for almost four months.
There has been no information about Justice Bhagwandas since Friday when Justice Chaudhry was made non-functional through a notification by President Pervez Musharraf.
The chamber of Justice Bhagwandas, who is to join his office on March 23, is locked and nobody is picking up the telephone at his residence. Even his close relatives are reluctant to divulge any information about him.
The acting chief justice informed the reporters that even the Supreme Court was not in contact with Justice Bhagwandas and his mobile phone was not responding.
On SJC's concern over media coverage of events after the suspension of the chief justice, he said he had only objected to what he called the scandalising of SJC proceedings.
The print and electronic media coverage should be to provide strength to the judiciary, keeping in view the dignity of the highest institution in country, he said.
Justice Iqbal was also critical of television channels for inviting in their talk shows people who had no knowledge of the law.
Such debates and discussions always created doubts in the minds of the people, he said, adding that it was not the job of the media to cause anxiety and panic in society.
Meanwhile, lawyers in most cities and towns in the country continued boycott of court proceedings for the fifth consecutive day against the reference sent to the Supreme Judicial Council.
Amanullah Kasi adds from Quetta: Lawyers marched on city roads and boycotted courts as protest against the suspension of the chief justice continued here on Wednesday.
Starting on Thursday, proceedings of courts would be boycotted for one hour everyday till March 16 and a token hunger strike would be observed in bar rooms, Vice-Chairman of Pakistan Bar Council Ali Ahmed Kurd told reporters at the Quetta Press Club.
He announced that a lawyers' convention would be held in Lahore on March 17 to devise a future line of action.
Date Posted: 3/14/2007