Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Monday has allowed Justice Javed Iqbal and Justice Saqib Nisar to head Abbottabad and Saleem Shahzad murder inquiry commissions respectively. However, Asma Jahangir and Justice (r) Fakharuddin G Ibrahim has refused to be the members of the commissions.
The government formed a commission on June 1, 2011 to probe the US unilateral operation in Abbottabad in which al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was killed, while on June 16 the government announced another commission to investigate the killing of journalist Saleem Shahzad. The government constituted both the commissions under Section 3 of Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act, 1956 (Act VI of 1956). The Law Ministry on June 19 had written two letters to Supreme Court (SC) registrar requesting the Chief Justice (CJ) to appoint honourable judges of the SC to head the inquiry commissions.
The chief justice considered the requests carefully. He stated that although this court was already short of its sanctioned strength and honourable judges are committed to administer justice even beyond their capacity, while continuously holding the benches at the principle seat and the branch registries and on account of tremendous increase in the number of cases, they have to discharge their functions beyond the normal working hours. However, in view of the national interest, he allowed Justice Javed Iqbal and Justice Saqib Nisar to head the probe commissions. The chief justice stated, “The competent authority, while nominating the other members of the commissions will also consider their status…“
The government had earlier proposed the same names to head the above said commissions but the formation of both the commissions was challenged on grounds that the government had not consulted the CJ as required by law. Moreover, the parties seeking constitution of probe commissions were dissatisfied with their scope.
Earlier the same day, while hearing the Saleem Shahzad murder case, the SC directed the government to form a judicial commission to probe the killing of the journalist, telling that no more delay in formation of the commission would be tolerated.