Does the CJP have balls ?

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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By Justice Markandey Katju

Qazi Faez Isa, the Chief Justice of Pakistan ( CJP )

Six Judges of the Islamabad High Court have written a letter dated 25th March 2024 to Qazi Faez Isa, the Chief Justice of Pakistan ( CJP ) who is also Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council of Pakistan, as well as to several other senior Judges of the Supreme Court and Chief Justices of the Islamabad and Peshawar High Courts

Para 6 of this letter has alleged serious and outrageous acts by the ISI and/or other Pakistan intelligence agencies, intended to intimidate, terrorise and pressurise the Judges, and interfere with their independence.These include pressurising the judges to change their judicial opinions, abduction of a relative of a judge, torturing him by electric shocks etc and forcing him to make a video 'confession', surveillance of the judges' homes, including fixing concealed video cameras and audio devices there, intimidating district judges, etc.

After this letter was sent and received, a Full Court of the Supreme Court discussed the issue, and various bar associations in Pakistan also demanded an investigation.

The CJP Qazi Faez Isa then met the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahbaz Sharif, and reportedly discussed the matter, after which it was announced by the Law Minister that a Commission, headed by a retired Judge, will shortly be appointed to probe into the allegations.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan's PTI party has rejected such a probe, calling it a farce.

In my opinion such a probe by a retired judge would be futile and a sham, and would just be a diversionary tactic. Who will be that retired judge ? What was his reputation ? How long will the probe take ? All these are unknown factors. About commissions there is a joke : a commission is like a commode, first you sit on it, then there is a report, and then the matter settles down.

Moreover, what can such a probe achieve ? Will any retired judge have the guts to indict the fearful ISI, against whom the allegations have been made ?

A Pakistani friend asked me what I would do in this situation if I were the CJP.

I said if I were the CJP I could solve the problem in a very short time.

He asked what would I do ?

I said if I were the CJP I would summon the army chief Gen Munir immediately and tell him I am going to announce closure of all courts in Pakistan unless he gives me a guarantee that there will be no interference with independence of the judiciary in future, and that court orders will be obeyed ( subject of course to statutory or constitutional review, appeal, etc ). If he was not willing to give me such a guarantee I would order closure of all courts, and tell Gen Munir to run the courts through army officers.

I said this some time back in an interview to a Pakistani journalist Sohrab Barkat of

But I doubt the present CJP, whom I call Justice Dramabaz, has the spine to take such a tough stand.

In conclusion I would like to say that protection of civil liberties and human rights, which are enshrined in Articles 8 to 28 of the Constitution of Pakistan, depends on just one man, the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

The question is, to put it in crude words, does he have balls?
(Justice Katju is a former Judge, of the Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, the Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own)

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