ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s Supreme Court proceedings were broadcast live on state television for the first time on Monday, offering an unprecedented glimpse into the workings of an institution that has historically had an enormous impact on the country’s politics.
The move marks the beginning of new Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s tenure as Pakistan’s top judge.
Isa, 64, was sworn in as chief justice on Sunday after becoming the court’s most senior judge following the retirement of his predecessor, Justice Umar Ata Bandial. Isa’s first step as chief judge was to open the proceedings for live streaming.
“It is a majority consensus decision to go live,” Isa said at the start of the process broadcast live on state broadcaster Pakistan Television. The court had blocked previous attempts to livestream the proceedings.
The broadcast aired uninterrupted on all major Pakistani channels.
Adding to the interest of the proceedings was the nature of the case, which concerns legislation that restricts the discretion of the Chief Justice to address any legal matter directly, commonly known as suo moto action, and his powers to entrust cases to his companions. judges.
He legislation passed by parliament earlier this year he had pitted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s outgoing coalition government against Isa’s predecessor.
Supreme Court justices automatically retire upon reaching age 65, and the next-ranking justice is elevated to chief justice. There is no fixed term for a Chief Justice.
Isa’s rise has sparked national interest given his reputation as a maverick judge and his harsh judgments criticizing the role of the country’s powerful military in politics.
The military has ruled Pakistan for more than three decades of its 76-year history and wields enormous influence over politics, including the formation and dismantling of civilian governments. The judiciary has historically legalized military rule and, critics say, helped the country’s generals remove elected leaders.
Political parties and analysts say army generals are once again trying to strengthen their control over the country’s governance under an interim government headed by Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar, who comes from a pro-military party.
Isa has issued several landmark rulings during his judicial career, including a 2019 ruling that raised pointed questions about the role of the military and its spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in brokering a deal between Islamists and the then government. .
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, close to then ISI chief Faiz Hameed, attempted to remove Isa as a judge over charges of financial irregularity in 2018, a charge that was dismissed in 2019 due to lack of evidence from his colleagues. judges.
Reporting by Asif Shahzad Editing by Mark Potter
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