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Aitzaz's insistence on LPG case transfer angers CJP Iftikhar

05 February, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: While hearing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz senior leader's application against the grant of LPG extraction plant licence to Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited (JJVL), Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Monday expressed anger over Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan when he insisted on referring the case to a different bench because he did not want to plead it before him (the CJP).

The chief justice observed, "It is being made a precedence and being misused." The court adjourned further hearing for two weeks to provide the senior counsel an opportunity to think over and review his decision after consulting his client. A three-member bench, headed by the chief justice himself took up an application filed by PML-N MNA Khawaja Asif against the grant of LPG extraction plant licence to Jamshoro Joint Venture Limited (JJVL) in 2003 in a non-transparent manner.

Appearing on behalf of JJVL, Barrister Ahsan insisted that he was following a salutary principle by not appearing before the chief justice for the last four years except on two occasions because he defended him (chief justice) before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) when a reference on misconduct was sent by former president Pervez Musharraf on March 9, 2007, besides pleading the petition of the chief justice against his sacking and launching a countrywide campaign along with the chief justice demanding his (CJP's) reinstatement.

The counsel has requested the chief justice to fix the case before a separate bench, especially when the case had already been partly heard by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali. The court, however, observed that it would have to decide the application in case the counsel keeps on insisting on the transfer of the case. It also said that everyone would object to the court's benches if this trend begins once.

The court also reminded the counsel that he had appeared before the CJP to defend former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, although he eventually lost when the court disqualified Gilani. The second occasion was when the Supreme Court itself appointed Barrister Ahsan as amicus curiae in the presidential reference concerning the judgement convicting former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. In his application Barrister Ahsan contended that he had been seen by the people in several images as very close to the chief justice between March 2007 to March 2009 touring together at home and abroad.

"The above is recorded only to show that the chief justice would be under some stress, as a human being, to avoid the impression of favouring Barrister Ahsan by deciding the case in favour of his client, even though it may be merited. "This may cause injustice to occur despite the best intentions of the learned Bench to avoid that circumstance," the application stated. But the court observed that it decides cases on merit without going under stress.


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