LHC directs PM Office to stop civil, military agencies from contacting judges

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LHC

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has directed the PM Office to instruct all the civil and military agencies including the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to not contact any member of the judiciary.

LHC’s Justice Shahid Karim issued a four-page written interim order on Saturday in a case pertaining to the harassment of an anti-terrorism court (ATC) judge in Sargodha.

The suo motu notice was taken by former LHC chief justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan on the ATC judge’s complaint. However, Justice Karim took over the proceedings after Khan’s elevation to the Supreme Court.

Justice Karim, during the previous hearing, issued instructions to the prime minister to lay down guidelines for the security agencies. He said that it was the responsibility of higher authorities to ensure the prevention of such incidents.

The written order states that no agency should “approach or contact” a judge whether of superior judiciary or sub-ordinate judiciary or any member of their staff in the future.

The court also said that the same instructions should be issued to all police officers in Punjab to not contact directly any judge of the superior judiciary or the sub-ordinate judiciary regarding the merits of any pending judicial proceedings before these courts.

“In case certain measures have to be taken regarding security etc in respect of Anti-Terrorism Courts across Punjab, these measures will only be put in place with the consultation and concurrence of the learned judge of that court and not otherwise,” said the order.

It also said that the IGP, and chief of police of the division or district will be personally held responsible and will be proceeded against in contempt of the orders in the LHC in case of violation.

Justice Karim also said that the judges of ATC across Punjab are directed to download a call recording application and shall be bound to record all such calls which they receive and with regard to which the learned judges have apprehensions that they have been made to influence any judicial proceedings before them.

“A direction is issued to the judges of Anti-Terrorism Courts across Punjab to deal and decide the cases relating to May 9, 2023 expeditiously and on priority,” the order said.

The court also directed the ATC judge and his staff to cooperate in the investigation.

“All investigation proceedings should be video recorded and the record shall be maintained by the police as also remitted to this court through the registrar.”

The court then adjourned the hearing till July 8.