Justices Javed Iqbal and Saqib Nisar to head commissions: CJ keeps govt choices unchanged
By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD:Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Monday nominated Justice Javed Iqbal and Justice Mian Saqib Nisar to head the inquiry commissions on the Abbottabad incident and the murder of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad.
The government had earlier named the same judges but was forced by critics to leave the nominations to the chief justice.
A Supreme Court statement said the chief justice had chosen the two judges after considering the government’s requests “carefully and in a discreet manner” and “keeping in view the national interest”.
When the government had first announced their names, Justice Javed Iqbal had accepted his nomination conditionally, but Justice Saqib Nisar had declined – both taking the position that their nomination needed the consent of the chief justice.
Now the commissions will be constituted by the government after naming other members of the two commissions under Section 3 of the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act of 1956.
The announcement came after the government approached the apex court on Sunday by delivering two letters at the residence of the registrar through the law secretary, requesting the chief justice to appoint judges to head the commissions.
“Keeping in view the national interest to probe into afore-noted incident (the killing of Saleem Shahzad), Justice Mian Saqib Nisar is hereby nominated as president of the commission. It is expected the competent authority, while nominating the other members, will also consider their status qua the position of the president of the commission, being judge of the apex court,” the announcement said.
Justice Javed Iqbal, the senior puisne judge, was nominated as president of the commission to investigate the May 2 US operation in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden.
In the morning, the court disposed of a petition filed by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) requesting it to appoint a high-powered judicial commission to probe the murder of the journalist.
The petition was disposed of by a two-judge bench headed by the chief justice with the expectation that the government would reconstitute the commission as early as possible and that other members of the commission would be named keeping in view the dignity and status of the judges of the apex court.
The court said it expected that the terms of reference of the commission would be expanded to the effect that the enforcement of the fundamental rights, such as Articles 4 (right of individuals to be dealt with in accordance with law), 9 (security of person), 17 (freedom of association), 19 (freedom of speech) and 19A (right to information), will also be included.
Former law minister Babar Awan assured the court that it was the desire of the federal government as well as the intelligence agencies to hold a thorough and transparent investigation into the murder.
Both Mr Awan and Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq had no objection to expanding the scope of the terms of reference and reconstituting the commission.
The Supreme Court Bar Association’s chief Asma Jehangir and former head Muneer A. Malik also said they would be satisfied if the terms of reference were expanded as the earlier terms prepared by the government were silent about basic rights. Denial of fundamental rights to citizens as well as journalists was one of the most important questions, they said.
Meanwhile, the acting chief of Islamabad police, Bani Amin Khan, said in his report that the mobile phone companies concerned had been asked to submit the phone record of Saleem Shahzad but the information had not been received as yet.