The country has seen a heated controversy over remarks made by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial during former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s appearance before the Supreme Court following his detention.
While the federal cabinet sees CJP Bandial’s greeting of Khan, who is suspected of corruption, with “good to see you” as a blemish on the face of justice, CJP Bandial sees it as part of court protocol.
CJP Bandial addressed lawyer Asghar Sabzwari during a court hearing today, saying “Good to see you” as the latter arrived before the chief justice after a long break, clarifying his demeanor.
“He is being criticized for greeting Khan in the same manner; however, he uses this phrase frequently,” the top justice noted.
“I hold everyone in high regard because respect and courteousness are important for everyone,” CJP Bandial said, adding, “There is no fun without these two aspects.”
Since last week, when Khan was hauled before the highest court after being detained on graft charges by Pakistan Rangers during a routine appearance at Islamabad High Court (IHC), CJP Bandial’s exchange of pleasantries with the PTI head has been the talk of the town.
The cabinet of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has sharply condemned CJP Bandial’s interference in the detention of the PTI president.
Following his detention, his supporters took to the streets, sparking violent protests in which government buildings were set fire, highways were blocked, and property belonging to the army was damaged, which the PTI blames for Khan’s departure from office last year.
On May 11, a three-judge bench led by CJP Bandial asked the anti-graft agency National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to submit Khan two days after his detention. Khan appeared before the bench in Courtroom No. 1 amid a tight security perimeter, dressed in a blue frock and a dark blue waistcoat.
When the ex-PM first approached the rostrum, he was greeted by the CJP, who said, “Good to see you.” Later, the court granted the PTI president “extraordinary” relief, pronouncing his arrest from the grounds of the Islamabad High Court “invalid and unlawful.”
The court ordered that NAB and police provide “foolproof” security for the former prime minister until his appearance before the IHC in connection with his suit against NAB in the Al-Qadir Trust case.
The chief justice’s “interference” was condemned by the federal cabinet meeting, which was presided over by the prime minister. The government also ruled that the chief justice was “guilty of misconduct” and should be dismissed from his position.
Addressing the cabinet, PM Shehbaz condemned the “double standards of justice”.