Supreme Court issues show-cause notices to Faisal Vawda, Mustafa Kamal

In a significant development, the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued show-cause notices to lawmakers Faisal Vawda and Mustafa Kamal on Friday, demanding explanations for their recent critical remarks against the judiciary.–File photos

In a significant development, the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued show-cause notices to lawmakers Faisal Vawda and Mustafa Kamal on Friday, demanding explanations for their recent critical remarks against the judiciary.

The notices were issued by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, with Justice Irfan Saadat Khan and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan also presiding.

This action follows a suo motu notice taken the previous day involving independent Senator Faisal Vawda. On Wednesday, Senators Vawda and PML-N’s Talal Chaudhry held separate press conferences questioning claims by Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges about intelligence agencies interfering in judicial matters. They asserted that accusations against institutions without evidence were unjustified.

The following day, two Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) — MQM-P’s Mustafa Kamal and IPP’s Awn Chaudhry — voiced concerns about perceived judicial shortcomings and called for ethical standards for judges. Kamal raised issues about judges’ dual citizenship and demanded accountability from the judiciary, while Awn warned that the current crisis could lead to national anarchy.

This controversy comes on the heels of a disturbing letter in late March from six IHC judges to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) members. The letter detailed attempts to pressure judges through abduction and torture of their relatives and secret surveillance in their homes. More recently, Justice Babar Sattar of the IHC wrote to IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq about breaches of his family’s personal data. In his letter, Justice Sattar mentioned issuing notices to intelligence and investigation agency heads while hearing an audio leaks case.

Senator Vawda has emphasized the need to cease targeting institutions. He questioned Justice Sattar’s delayed response to alleged interference, suggesting that if IHC judges had evidence, they should present it, promising his support. Vawda also sought details from the IHC about correspondence between former IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Sattar regarding the latter’s US green card, claiming his request remained unanswered after 15 days. He urged the SJC to address this matter.

During a press conference, Talal Chaudhry argued that a judge should issue a notice, not a letter, in case of interference. In response, the IHC registrar clarified that residency or citizenship details are not required for a high court judge’s appointment. The additional registrar, Ijaz Ahmed, stated that no formal records are kept of conversations or interviews regarding judicial appointments, nor is there written documentation about discussions in the Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) concerning Justice Sattar’s green card. Notably, in 2013, the JCP had rejected the appointment of senior lawyer Anis Jilani as an IHC judge due to his dual nationality.

During Friday’s hearing, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Aamir Rehman appeared before the court. Chief Justice Isa questioned Rehman about Vawda’s press conference and whether it constituted contempt of court. Rehman noted that the stream he heard had some words muted.

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Chief Justice Isa remarked on the increase in statements against him, which he had previously ignored, implying that his tolerance might have encouraged others to criticize the judiciary. He asserted that while individuals might criticize specific decisions, targeting the institution was unacceptable. Emphasizing that institutions serve the public, he stated that defaming them does not serve the country. He acknowledged that institutions might have faults but argued that constructive criticism, not baseless allegations, was the appropriate response.

Justice Isa highlighted that bearing arms or hurling abuses are signs of weakness, suggesting that valid arguments could silence even the judges. He reaffirmed his commitment to his oath, taken not for personal gain but for the institution’s integrity.

Reflecting on past allegations against him by a former Rawalpindi commissioner, the chief justice criticized the sensationalism in the media and underscored that respectable societies do not resort to such conduct, hence the limited use of contempt of court laws. He questioned the need for loud and dramatic criticisms, advocating instead for constructive dialogue to strengthen institutions. Chief Justice Isa concluded by distancing himself from those who extended martial law, insisting that any personal wrongdoing should not taint other judges.

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