Islamabad(TNS): ISI and other intelligence agencies interference in judiciary case Justice Athar Minallah on Tuesday said the state had to protect the country’s judges and the independence of the judiciary.

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ISI and other intelligence agencies interference in judiciary case Justice Athar Minallah on Tuesday said the state had to protect the country’s judges and the independence of the judiciary.

He made the remarks as a six-member Supreme Court (SC) bench resumed hearing a case pertaining to allegations made by six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges regarding interference by the country’s security apparatus in judicial matters.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pa­­kistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, the bench included justices Minallah, Mansoor Ali Shah, Jamal Khan Mando­khail, Musarrat Hilali and Naeem Akhtar Afghan. The proceedings were streamed live on the SC’s website and its YouTube channel. In late March, it emerged that six IHC 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 the abduction and torture of their relatives as well as secret surveillance inside their homes.

The letter was signed by judges Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, Babar Sattar, Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, Arbab Muhammad Tahir and Saman Rafat Imtiaz.

A day later, calls had emerged from various quarters for a probe into the investigation, amid which CJP Isa summoned a full court meeting of the SC judges.

In a meeting, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and CJP Isa had decided to form an inquiry commission, which was later approved by the federal cabinet. However, ex-CJP Tassaduq Hussain Jillani — tasked to head the one-man inquiry commission — recused himself from the role, urging Justice Isa to “resolve the issues raised in the letter at the institutional level”. At the same time, the top court took suo motu notice of the matter.

Justice Yahya Afridi, who was among the seven-member bench that presided over the last hearing, had recused himself from the case. At the previous hearing, CJP Isa had asserted that “any attack” on the judiciary’s independence would not be tolerated while hinting at forming a full court to hear the case.

Besides the suo motu, the SC has also taken up more than 10 petitions and applications seeking its intervention, which were filed by various bar associations and had been clubbed together.

Today, Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan appeared before the apex court.

The apex court ordered the petitioners — the bar councils and associations — to submit a response by the next hearing on May 7, adding that it would be appropriate if it was unanimous.

It also said that the federal government could submit its response or proposals through the AGP if it wanted to do so. CJP Isa said that if the allegations “refer to any [intelligence] agency, the said agency should respond” through the AGP.