ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali said on Tuesday that the responsibility for conducting investigations rests with the executive and not the judiciary. His words are being perceived by many as an apparent answer to the demand for an investigation into the Panama leaks by a chief justice-led commission.
“We are under pressure to take notice either on a suo motu or order the setting up of a judicial commission, but is it the job of the judiciary or of the executive to appoint commissions? The latter has all the institutions at its command,” said the chief justice during a hearing on the Sindh government’s appeal against the Sindh High Court’s Feb 10 judgment vis-à-vis the provincial local government law.
While deciding the applications of MQM and PML-F, the high court verdict had annulled some amendments to the local government law which replaced secret balloting with a show of hands for electing mayors, deputy mayors and other local government representatives in the province.
Although the chief justice did not make a reference to the current political storm surrounding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members, observers believe that the allusion was to the demand for an inquiry into the investments made by the premier’s family through offshore companies.
Ever since the Panama Papers surfaced, PTI chief Imran Khan and the PPP have been calling for the prime minister’s resignation and the constitution of commission led by the chief justice to investigate allegations against the Sharif family.
During the proceedings on Tuesday, the three-judge Supreme Court bench seemed unconvinced with the Sindh government’s decision to conduct elections for local government slots through a show of hands instead of secret ballot.
The judges repeatedly questioned whether legislation could be carried out in the guise of provincial autonomy that adversely affected transparency in the system, especially when the election schedule had been announced.
If balloting through show of hands is really a transparent and efficient system, the voting to elect the prime minister should also be held by show of hands instead of a secret ballot, the chief justice said.
Referring to the 21st Amendment judgment, the chief justice explained that the judiciary had serious reservations over it, but had to compromise for the sake of democracy by only giving observations.