Full court body: CJP may not accept PM’s desire

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's announcement for requesting Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial for the formation of a “full court commission” to investigate PTI Chairman Imran Khan's allegations about his assassination attempt is unprecedented and may not be entertained with letter and spirit.

However, the prime minister's written request may be converted into a suo motu case under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution by holding that it is a matter of public interest wherein both sides — the federal government and opposition — are requesting CJP Bandial to intervene into the matter.

In case the CJP agrees to form the commission, then it will comprise two or three judges to find out the facts.

In May 2016, then CJP Anwar Zaheer Jamali had declined the federal government’s request to form a judicial commission to probe into the Panama Papers leaks.

“[The] formation of [a] Commission of Inquiry under the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act 1956 (Act VI of 1956), looking to its limited scope, will result in the constitution of a toothless commission, which will serve no useful purpose, except giving [a] bad name to it," the former CJP had written in a letter to the the government.

Later, Imran, an ousted premier, had moved a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court for an inquiry into the Panamagate scandal.

Subsequently, the apex court had conducted the proceedings under Article 184 (3). Even a joint investigation team (JIT) was formed to probe into the foreign properties of the Sharif family.

Earlier, ex-CJP Nasirul Mulk had formed a three-member inquiry commission to inquire into the PTI's allegations about rigging in the 2013 general elections.

"I don't think the court is bound by letter to follow the PM’s request as the SC cannot do what he desires,” said Advocate Abuzar Salman Niazi.

“The Supreme Court can form a commission on its own under its rules,” he elaborated. “The federal government can form a probe body under the Commission of Inquiry Act,” he added.

On PTI Senator Azam Swati’s news conference, Advocate Niazi said the “revelation” of the Supreme Court’s rest house in Quetta being bugged was alarming.

“In my view, it has potential to dent the credibility of the apex court. Are there residences, offices, chambers and other rest houses free from invasion? If judges can be being monitored and their privacy can be invaded in such an obscene manner, no one is safe,” he noted.

Also read: PM Shehbaz demands 'full court commission' to probe Imran’s allegations

“What is the objective of monitoring and bugging? To look for material to blackmail judges and compromise them. This also authenticates the contentions of Justice Qazi Faez Isa that his family was being followed and monitored,” he added.

Senior lawyers believe that like other institutions, the SC is also divided on ideological lines.

They say that if the CJP wants to probe the allegations of PTI leaders, then he should form a larger bench comprising senior-most SC judges or constitute a full court for this matter.

A PTI lawyer said the party should welcome PM Shehbaz's announcement about an inquiry into Imran’s allegations through the Supreme Court.

However, one section of lawyers is consistently advocating that the Supreme Court should not intervene in matters of political nature.

Presently, the country's politics is revolving around the appointment of the new army chief.

The government is unable to receive a proper legal advice from the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) Office or law ministry.

Incumbent AGP Ashtar Ausaf Ali has already requested PM Shehbaz to accept his resignation as he was unwell. Similarly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has been given the additional charge of the law minister but he has no legal background.

Besides, the apex court’s working will severely affected in case the SC accepts the PM’s request to form a full court commission.

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