September, 22, 2023
Supreme Court Rejects Govt's Objection in Audio Leaks Case

Supreme Court Rejects Govt’s Objection in Audio Leaks Case

The Supreme Court’s five-member bench has dismissed the government’s objection petition against the Audio Leaks Inquiry Commission on multiple grounds. The court ruled that the petition was filed with frivolous intentions, aimed at harassing the bench and attempting to remove the Chief Justice from the proceedings. Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan delivered a brief judgment, denouncing the objections as an attack on the judiciary’s independence and subsequently rejecting the petition.

In a comprehensive 32-page judgment authored by the Chief Justice, it was asserted that the objections lacked legal merit and were filed in bad faith, primarily to disrupt the bench members. The federal government had previously employed various delaying tactics and displayed contempt for court decisions.

The sequence of events began on March 1 when the Speaker’s request was rejected by a four-to-three majority. Instead of challenging the April 4 decision, the government sought refuge in an Election Commission revision appeal, attempting to justify its inaction. Subsequently, Parliament passed the Supreme Court Review of Judgments and Orders Act, which was later deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. The government had also filed petitions to set aside several constitutional cases, including one against the Audio Leaks Commission, citing conflicts of interest and bias.

The objections against the Audio Leaks case were aimed at separating the Chief Justice from the bench. Federal ministers made provocative statements against judges handling various cases, furthering the government’s agenda. The Supreme Court displayed considerable patience, emphasizing the importance of adhering to final judicial decisions, with consequences for non-compliance outlined in the constitution.

The judiciary dismissed the petition as having been filed for malicious purposes and pointed out that it had tolerated the federal government’s non-cooperation in implementing court decisions without taking disciplinary action. Following the revelation of audio leaks, the federal government and its allied parties openly threatened court decisions and verbally attacked some members of the judiciary.

A notable incident occurred on May 15 when the court was hearing the Election Commission’s review appeal against its April 14 decision, which had ordered elections in Punjab on May 14. On May 15, government coalition parties staged an aggressive demonstration outside the Supreme Court, making serious threats against the Chief Justice of Pakistan. The aim was to exert pressure on the judiciary, and the court noted with concern that the government allowed the protesters into the red zone area despite a ban on protests.

The verdict emphasized that while Article 19 of the Constitution grants freedom of expression, this right should be exercised responsibly. It is noteworthy that the former PDM government had previously raised objections to the composition of the Audio Leaks Commission bench in the Supreme Court, requesting the formation of a new bench. Their objections were based on allegations of conflicts of interest and bias, particularly concerning Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, and Justice Muneeb Akhtar, who were hearing the case. The petition contended that given the relationships and associations involved, a new bench should be constituted to ensure impartiality.

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