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Pak Crisis Takes New Turn
Debug all judges, court: Bench
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

Islamabad, July 2
In a dramatic twist to the ongoing judicial crisis, judges of the full court bench of the Supreme Court on Monday interrupted proceedings in the constitution petition of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry while angrily reacting to a document submitted by the government whose contents betrayed information that all of them are being spied on.

Presiding judge Khalil Ramday ordered all intelligence agencies to remove, within seven days, the bugging devices from the court premises and houses of judges. He further ordered that intelligence chiefs submit affidavits that a thorough search has been conducted into these premises and made them bug free.

The court also fined the government Rs. 100,000 for stealing court record, including copies of bills and receipts which were made part of its case against the Chief Justice and directed that the entire record be returned to the court.

The law secretary was issued notice to appear before the court and explain the government position. It ordered ban on entry of all agents of civil and military intelligence agencies in the premises of the Supreme Court and sought a compliance statement on oath.

The judges felt peeved over a document submitted with the registrar of the court by the government on Saturday which implicit acknowledged that their movement and private conversation at home in courts is being closely watched and tapped.

No one on the government panel of counsels, including Sharifuddin Pirzada, Attorney-General Makhdoom Ali Khan and Qayyum Malik, was prepared to own the document. But Malik informed the court that it was filed by Advocate on Record. The court ordered his immediate suspension and cancelled his permit to practice besides asking him to appear before it on Tuesday.

The court proceedings were interrupted for over two hours while the press was directed to withhold any reporting. Later when it resumed hearing, Ramday allowed the press to report the event in a responsible manner.

The document cast aspersions on judges and referred to conversation and remarks by various judges predicting their mind on the case.

Judges spoke one after another reaffirming their resolve not to be browbeaten and to dispense justice independently on merit.

President Musharraf told a media workshop on Friday that judges are being pressurised to give verdict under duress. He urged them to reject that pressure and promised to abide by their judgement. On another occasion, he described the case as a fight between truth and falsehood while insisting that his reference against CJ was based on facts. I will weep the day falsehood prevailed over truth, he remarked.

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