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Ex-CJP Tassaduq Jillani to lead probe body formed after IHC judges’ letter

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ISLAMABAD: Retired Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, a former chief justice, was on Saturday appointed the head of the inquiry commission that will investigate charges of interference into judicial independence by the intelligence apparatus.

On Tuesday, six Islamabad High Court judges — out of a total strength of eight — wrote a startling letter to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) members, regarding attempts to pressure judges through abduction and torture of their relatives as well as secret surveillance inside their homes.

A day later, calls emerged from various quarters for a probe into the investigation, amid which Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa summoned a full court meeting of the Supreme Court’s judges.

After a meeting between CJP Isa and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday, the duo decided to form a commission to investigate the concerns of interference in judicial affairs following the cabinet’s approval.

According to the Terms of Reference (TORs) for the inquiry body released today, the federal cabinet approved the appointment of former CJP Jillani as the head of the commission.

According to the TORs, the commission will fully investigate the allegations of the IHC judges and determine their veracity, if any. It will also investigate if any official was directly involved in judicial interference and suggest action against any agency, department or state institution based on the facts unearthed.

The commission will also be at liberty to investigate any other matter during the course of the inquiry if it feels the issue to be important.

The federal cabinet repudiated the allegations of the IHC judges and declared them to be “inappropriate”, adding that the consensus of its members was that they believed in the separation of powers of state institutions as per the Constitution.

PM Shehbaz reiterated his faith in the principle of the judiciary’s independence of the judiciary and the division of constitutional powers. He briefed the cabinet members on his meeting with the chief justice and they expressed their complete support of the decisions and actions taken so far.