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Ex-CJP Jillani refused to lead inquiry into IHC judges’ letter before SC notice, confirms law minister


Former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani. — APP/File
  • PM Office informed about letter an hour before SC notice: minister.
  • All stakeholders agreed on Jillani’s name to lead commission: Tarar.
  • ToRs of inquiry commission were also sent to ex-CJP, he says.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar has said that former chief justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani recused himself from heading a probe commission on Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges’ letter before the Supreme Court’s suo motu notice on the matter.

“An hour before the suo moto notice, the Prime Minister House was informed about Jillani’s letter,” the minister said while speaking on Geo News’ Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath.

In an unexpected turn of events, former CJP Jillani refused to head the one-man commission formed by the government to probe the IHC judges’ allegations of intelligence agencies’ interference in judicial matters.

The former CJ, while excusing himself, noted that since the letter was written by the judges to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and chief justice, it would have been “violative of judicial propriety” for him to probe the matter, which he argued, may fall “within the jurisdiction of a constitutional body which is the Supreme Judicial Council or the Supreme Court of Pakistan itself”.

His letter came to the fore shortly after the Supreme Court earlier today took suo motu notice and formed a seven-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa to hear the matter that sparked speculations that the Jillani decided to step back from leading the probe following the top court’s move.  

Divulging details of the matter, the law minister told Khanzada that on the instruction of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, he contacted the former top judge and informed him that all stakeholders had agreed on his name to lead the probe commission.

“Tassaduq Jillani had agreed to head the commission,” he said adding that the terms of reference (ToRs) of the inquiry commission were also sent to the ex-CJP.

The law minister lamented that the matter of inquiry into the judges’ letter was given a “political colour” and praised CJP Isa for taking the right decision to take suo moto notice amid a “tense environment”.

In the letter, Justice (retd) Jillani also noted that the “terms of the reference for inquiry” were not relevant to the subject asked to probe by the six IHC judges in their letter. 

“Though, the letter in question may not strictly fall within the parameters of Article 209 of the Constitution, but the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan being a paterfamilias may address and resolve the issues raised in the letter at the institutional level. For the afore-referred reasons, I recuse myself to head the commission and proceed with the inquiry,” said Justice (retd) Jillani in the letter.

The commission to probe the judges’ letter was formed after PM Shehbaz and CJP Isa, held a meeting on the judges’ letter that had emerged last week.

The meeting between the CJP and PM Shehbaz was held after a full court had met the very next day, March 27, the letter had emerged.

As a result of the meeting, the government decided to constitute a commission to probe into allegations levelled by the IHC judges.

Following the huddle, the federal cabinet on March 30 approved the constitution of an inquiry commission over allegations of the IHC judges and appointed former CJP Jillani as its head.

The commission was tasked to hold inquiry into the allegations levelled by the judges in a letter. Subsequently, the cabinet members also gave go-ahead to the terms of reference (ToRs) of the commission.

However, now with the recusal of the former chief justice and the Supreme Court taking suo motu notice on the issue, it remains to be seen what the fate would be of the commission. 

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