SC rejects all 3 pleas seeking Cipher probe

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected all three pleas seeking an investigation into a cipher — presented by PTI Chairman Imran Khan in March 2022 as evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” to oust him.
Justice Qazi Faez Isa pronounced the verdict today after conducting an in-chamber hearing on pleas filed by Advocate Zulfiqar Ahmed Bhutta, Syed Tariq Badar and Advocate Naeemul Hasan last year. The petitions had sought the constitution of a “high-powered commission” to probe the alleged “foreign conspiracy” that Imran claimed was hatched to topple his government.

They had named the Federation of Pakistan through the law and justice secretary, the prime minister, and the cabinet secretary as respondents in the case.

However, the applications had been returned earlier over objections by the Registrar’s Office. Subsequently, the petitioner filed fresh pleas in the court against these objections.

It is a common practice of the court office to sometimes return petitions by raising objections like questioning why the petitioner has approached the apex court directly without exhausting other available forums first. Such rejections are usually challenged by the petitioners and are taken up by a judge in his chamber as nominated by the chief justice.

Earlier, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood recused himself from a hearing scheduled for Jan 24 and had sent the pleas back to the top judge.

At the outset of yesterday’s hearing, Justice Isa asked: “Is dealing with foreign affairs the job of the court? Did Imran Khan make any decision to investigate the matter as the prime minister?”

He added: “Imran Khan had all the powers to have an investigation conducted. All authorities are under the prime minister.”

He asked: “What should the court do in the cipher’s matter?”

When the petitioner’s counsel termed the investigations a “matter of fundamental rights”, Justice Isa asked: “What impact did the cipher have on your or my life? There is no matter of fundamental rights in this case.”

He further said: “Do you want that the entire world’s ciphers are sent to the Supreme Court instead of the foreign ministry? If there is any attack in the future, would the Supreme Court announce war?”

At one point during the hearing, Justice Isa said if the government wants, it can make public the ciphers, but if anyone else does it, it would be a violation of the [Officials] Secret Act.

He further remarked: “If the prime minister wants, he can use his authority to end relations with the world.”

Justice Isa said, “If someone is not even eligible to become the prime minister, there is a remedy for this as well. Whoever’s job it is, let them do it. The judiciary cannot interfere in the executive’s matters.”

Upon the petitioner’s lawyer saying that the “court has to see who is doing what”, the judge said that “elders have forbidden me from seeing anything”. –Agencies