glimmer of optimism
Bandial establishes a special panel to consider the three petitions Imran submitted in the Toshakhana matter.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial has kept the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) expectations of receiving relief in significant matters alive as the clock ticks towards his retirement.
Imran Khan’s three ongoing petitions, which were submitted throughout his trial in the Toshakhana (gift repository) issue, will be heard by a special bench that the top justice of Pakistan has established. The matter will be heard by the bench on August 23 (today).
It is interesting to note that the case was fixed at the exact moment the Islamabad High Court set the PTI chief’s appeal against his conviction for hearing today (Tuesday).
The synchronicity has lawyers questioning whether the timing may have an impact on the IHC hearings. Supporters of the PTI have been criticizing IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq for what they see to be unfair delays in providing relief to Imran.
Imran’s most important constitutional petition, though, has been returned by the Supreme Court Registrar’s Office. In circumstances when his pre-arrest bails were denied for procedural reasons, the petition asks for remedy. The office listed numerous arguments against the petition for the constitution.
Another noteworthy step is the Supreme Court’s acceptance of a petition submitted by the and other delegates.
A directive to hold elections within 90 days is requested in the petition to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
They have also asked the Supreme Court to overturn the Council of Common Interests’ (CCI) decision to announce the digital census, which was made on August 5. This petition’s hearing date is anticipated to be set for this month as well.
In the current political atmosphere, the outcome of this appeal is significant since the establishment opposes conducting elections within 90 days while the PTI is adamantly in favor of them.
Lawyers speculate that CJP Bandial may have intended to rule on this petition before he retired. They doubt, however, that in his final days, he will get the backing of other judges to amend the petition.
The attorneys are pleading with the CJP to look for agreement among the Supreme Court in order to ensure fair processes. They are concerned that failing to act could lead to a situation similar to the Punjab Assembly elections, which were postponed despite a clear directive from the Supreme Court on May 14.
The National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 amendment is the subject of a petition filed by another Imran, and CJP Bandial may attempt to rule on it.
Similar to Imran, other petitions opposing the Army Act’s requirement that civilians be tried in military courts are also in jeopardy. It will be interesting to see if the Chief Justice of Pakistan can rule on these petitions before he retires.
The case contesting the Supreme Court Practice and Procedure Act 2023, which limits the chief justice’s discretionary powers, is still pending resolution by a larger bench chaired by CJP Bandial.
On April 13, the bench issued a stay on the legislation’s effects pending enactment. It’s interesting to note that CJP Bandial has since used his discretion to issue stay orders.
After the law’s passage, senior puisne judge Qazi Faez Isa left all benches and questioned the larger bench’s decision to suspend the law.
The constitutionality of benches created following the passage of this law has also been questioned by the judge.
Due to a number of factors, Justice Bandial was unable to strengthen his working relationship with the senior puisne judge after taking office as CJP. Conflicts inside SC have caused it to become a “weak institution.”
Observers anticipated that history would be better able to determine who was to blame for the current predicament.
The plea submitted by the SCBA president over the audio leaks commission is still pending before a larger bench headed by CJP Bandial.
Whatever the result, legal experts predict that during the term of the incoming CJP, Qazi Faez Isa, reviews will be brought against these judgements.
Imran’s ‘right to a fair trial’ argument
Imran, the former prime minister, submitted a petition on Monday challenging his “political victimization” and the violation of his “right to a fair trial” over rejected pre-arrest bail petitions, but the Supreme Court Registrar Office on Monday declined to consider it.
The PTI leader’s legal team had submitted a constitutional petition to the Supreme Court in an effort to obtain justice when his pre-arrest bail petitions were denied for procedural reasons. Petition demanded that the petitioner’s fundamental rights be upheld and that the trial court’s decision to reject pre-arrest bail petitions be overturned.
In cases “where his pre-arrest bail applications were dismissed without due consideration of case merits, thereby ensuring his rightful access to fair trial”, it asked the court to prevent the relevant authorities from detaining the PTI chief.
The petition was, however, denied by the office because it was deemed “not entertainable”.
The petition failed to show the involvement of any issue of public concern or the enforcement of fundamental rights protected by the Constitution, the office noted in a written notice.
The notice stated that the request submitted on Imran’s behalf did not meet the criteria for invoking Article 184(3).