The Intelligence Bureau (IB) moved the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday to let it withdraw its review petition against the judgment delivered in the Faizabad Dharna case.
A three-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Athar Minallah is due to take up review petitions against the February 6, 2019 verdict on September 28.
IB Director-General Fuad Asadullah Khan has submitted the request for withdrawal through the intelligence agency’s Deputy Director Amjad Iqbal, stating that the bureau does not wish to pursue this matter.
At least eight review petitions were filed against the Faizabad Dharna case judgment, wherein intelligence agencies – the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), IB and Military Intelligence (MI) – and the army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), were directed not to exceed their constitutional mandate.
It had further called attention to lapses on part of the government, media, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which led to a formerly little-known party, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) becoming “a phenomenon”.
The review petitions were not taken up during the tenures of the last three chief justices, namely Asif Saeed Khosa, Gulzar Ahmed and Umar Ata Bandial.
Read SC fixes Faizabad sit-in review pleas for hearing
Soon after the judgment in the Faizabad sit-in case in February 2019 was issued, speculations were rife that the then Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government was planning to file a presidential reference against outspoken Justice Isa.
During the hearing of Justice Isa’s case related to an inquiry into three UK properties in the name of his wife and children, his counsel Muneer A Malik told the apex court that the judge’s observations in the Faizabad sit-in judgment – ‘an inconvenient truth’ – prompted the PTI-led federal government to file a presidential reference against him.
He said eight review petitions were filed against the Faizabad sit-in case verdict by various political parties and organisations including the PTI, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), ECP, PEMRA, IB and the defence ministry (ISI).
“The review petitions were part of a coordinated exercise as all were saying that [the] observations in [the] SC judgment demoralised the armed forces,” Malik added.
Justice Isa’s counsel further said the content of the review petitions filed by the PTI and MQM-P was the same.
However, the PTI again filed its review petition when the SC registrar’s office raised objection to its language.
Malik told the court that both the parties had accused Justice Isa of “misconduct” for giving his observations against the security establishment.
The ISI challenged the SC verdict in the Faizabad sit-in case, saying it would adversely affect the morale of the armed forces.
The ISI, through then attorney general for pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor Khan, contended that the court’s observations would gather the impression that the armed forces and the premier intelligence agency were responsible for such “unconstitutional acts”.
Read more Trend of seeking adjournments will no longer fly, says CJP Isa
It added that the verdict displaced the image of the armed forces defending the country against the menace of terrorism with that of those “mired in politics, manipulating elections, subverting free speech, muzzling the press and funding extremists”.
The ISI contended that the observation about the involvement of the armed forces in politics was vague as there was no evidence to back it up.
Likewise, it continued that there was no evidence to suggest that the ISI was involved with either the Faizabad sit-in, outcome of the 2018 general elections, abridgment of free speech, or intimidation of or censorship of the press.
The ISI maintained that observations and findings created the impression that the armed forces, in violation of their oath of office, have been found by the court to be involved in politics and other unlawful activities.
It added that the court’s observations created the perception that the armed forces were busy pampering rather than checking those who resorted to abuse, hate and violence.
“These are disturbing allegations unsupported by any credible and admissible evidence without identifying any person. Yet, the chiefs of armed forces of Pakistan have been directed to take disciplinary action against unnamed individuals who the court suspects of being so involved,” read the ISI’s review petition.