Audio leaks case: FIA, PTA, and PEMRA pleas seeking Justice Sattar’s recusal dismissed

The Islamabad High Court fined each of the three government departments Rs. 500,000 on Monday after dismissing their arguments against a bench trial over audio leaks.

The court may also hold the heads of the aforementioned departments—Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)—culpable for contempt.

In the audio leak case, four government agencies—the PEMRA, PTA, FIA, and Intelligence Bureau—filed separate petitions with the IHC, pleading for Justice Babar Sattar’s recusal and asking for the case to be heard by the same bench that has previously decided a case of a similar nature.

The petitioners contended that in order to prevent a different ruling, Justice Babar Sattar should recuse himself from the case that was decided in 2021. The petitions of Bushra Bibi, the wife of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder Imran Khan, and Najamul Saqib, the son of former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar, should also be brought before the same bench.

During the current hearing, Justice Sattar also issued a summons to IB Joint Director General Tariq Mehmood, directing him to come before the court for the case’s subsequent hearing.

Following the issue’s discovery in 2023, the judge has been considering the aforementioned petitions.

The government agencies contended in the petitions in the case before Justice Sattar that Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani had already resolved on an analogous issue in 2021. Thus, in order to prevent a conflicting ruling and for the sake of justice, they asked the judge to recuse herself from the case.

The departments are requesting that Justice Sattar recuse himself after six IHC judges—among them, himself—complained in writing to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) about intelligence agencies interfering with the court’s decision.

On March 25, the judges called for the calling of a judicial convention to address the issue of purported meddling by intelligence agents in the judicial activities or “intimidation” of judges in a way that jeopardized the judiciary’s independence.

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