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Did Law Minister discuss judges’ transfers with LHC Chief Justice?

The PML-N leadership blamed the executive for meddling into the judicial matters through ordering transfers and postings of the judges. However, the law minister has rubbished such allegations and urged the opposition not to misinform the public.

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News Desk |

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has condemned the recent decision of the government to transfer judges hearing cases against the party leaders. The PML-N leaders termed the development “blatant and a glaring attack on the judiciary by the executive” and demanded the chief justice of Pakistan to take immediate action.

Read more: Judges presiding over Sharif Family & Rana Sanaullah case repatriated to Lahore High Court

PML-N’s Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal and party’s information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb held an emergency news conference at the National Press Club on the eve of Wednesday and urged Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa to look into the matter. Both leaders also asked the CJP to order a “transparent and independent inquiry” into the reports that the government’s move had come following a “secret meeting” between a senior judge of the Lahore High Court (LHC) and a sitting minister at Kashmir House in Islamabad on Tuesday night. “We are hopeful that the chief justice will take suo motu notice of this attack on the judiciary,” Mr Iqbal declared.

The PML-N leader said they were concerned over “media reports” regarding the alleged meeting between the judge and the minister, saying all over the world, meetings between judges and members of the executive were considered “inappropriate and against the judicial norms”.

Mr Iqbal said the judge who was hearing the narcotics case of PML-N MNA from Faisalabad Rana Sanaullah received a message on WhatsApp in the middle of the hearing that he had been repatriated to the LHC. Later, he said, the ministry of law and justice issued a notification ordering transfer of all the judges who had been hearing cases against PML-N leaders, including Maryam Nawaz, Hamza Shahbaz and Khawaja Saad Rafique. “Is the country’s judicial system being run on whims and desires of the sitting government or independently?” asked Mr Iqbal.

The PML-N leaders expressed their calmness that the CJP shall take action against those involved in this matter. “We hope that the chief justice will take notice and set aside the government’s decision,” he said, adding: “he [the CJ] is the chief judicial officer of the country and a guarantor of Pakistan’s judicial system. All eyes are now on the chief justice whether he takes notice of this attack on the judicial process or not. I hope that he will set aside this decision … otherwise, people will lose confidence in the judicial system,” he said.

However, the PML-N leaders did not clarify if they will formally approach the apex court and request it to probe into the matter. Mr. Iqbal did not address the matter if his party was planning to initiate any formal legal proceedings against the alleged illegal decision of the government.

“Minister” responds to PML-N’s allegations

Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem confirmed that he had met Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Sardar Shamim Khan in Islamabad on Tuesday night.

However, the minister claimed that the issue of judges’ postings or transfer was not discussed in the meeting. While speaking to media, Barrister Naseem said Azad Jammu and Kashmir Chief Justice Tabassum Aftab Alvi was also present in the meeting that took place at Kashmir House.

Read more: Honest judges felt ashamed due to judge Malik’s conduct: CJP

He said he had discussed the issues of the proposed law reforms concerning overseas Pakistanis in the brief meeting. He said his ministry had been corresponding with high courts since June for legal reforms.

The minister explained that the notification regarding the transfer of the judges had been issued on Aug 26 prior to his meeting with the LHC chief justice. He also said that no WhatsApp message had been sent to any judge by his ministry.

This has now been clarified that the law minister met the LHC chief and no discussion took place regarding the transfers of the judges.

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