SC’s suo motu action

The judges’ allegations of coercion and intimidation is a serious matter warranting a serious probe.

A suo motu notice followed by a recusal — or maybe the other way round. Whichever the case, a seven-member larger bench of the Supreme Court has replaced the one-member commission of Justice (retd) Tasadduq Hussain Jillani to probe allegations — leveled by six judges of the Islamabad High Court — of inte¬rference in judicial affairs by intelligence agencies.

It looks as if the public statement issued by 300 lawyers on Sunday, laced with signs of caveat and caution, has worked — thus the recusal by the retired inquiry judge and the suo motu notice by the top court. The lawyers, in their statement, had called upon the Supreme Court to take notice of the allegations of the whistle blower judges under Article 184(3) of the Constitution and expressed their “unwavering commitment and wholehearted support to the principles of rule of law, independence of judiciary and access to justice”.

Anyway, things have taken the right course. The judges’ allegations of coercion and intimidation is a serious matter warranting a serious probe. Investigation under a commission headed by a retired judge was widely perceived as nothing more than a cover-up exercise, given the fate of similar commissions in the past formed to probe matters of national importance, including the break-up of the country. As the independence of the judiciary stands compromised, a transparent probe into the alleged interference in judicial work is a must in order for the judicial institutions in the country to work with integrity, authority and full freedom.

The Supreme Court, nonetheless, has a tricky job at hand, as it gears up to take up a case involving two powerful and sacred state institutions — one as plaintiff and the other as respondent. It will be quite captivating to see how the seven-member bench of apex court, headed by the Chief Justice himself, deals with the issue of separation of powers in line with the writ of the constitution. The case starts tomorrow.

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