PAKISTAN BALOCHISTAN Quetta hospital blast: Balochistan govt rejects one man judicial body

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QUETTA: The Balochistan government has raised objections over the one-man judicial commission appointed by the Supreme Court to investigate the August 8 Quetta hospital tragedy, which claimed the lives of more than 70 people, most of them members of the legal fraternity.

In its review petition filed in response to the top court’s October 6 order, the provincial government has also pinpointed a serious trust deficit in Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s appointment as the commission’s sole member.

While hearing the suo motu case pertaining to the grisly attack the Supreme Court tasked a judicial commission comprising solely of Justice Isa to probe the incident within 30 days. The commission is set to begin its investigation today (Monday).

The Balochistan government, however, has filed a review petition against the top court order through the province’s Advocate General Amanulluh Kanrani, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune.

In the petition, the provincial government has requested the Supreme Court to review its October 6 order and recall it “to the extent of constitution of an inquiry commission headed by a judge of the Supreme Court.”
“As evident from the poignant letter written by Justice Qazi Faez Isa soon after [August 8] incidents, the judge is very deeply and painfully affected by the martyrdom attained and injuries suffered by the lawyers of whom many his lordship also refers to as friends,” reads the petition. “As such, it is humbly submitted; with the utmost respect that nomination of his lordship as the commission for inquiry into the incident of 08-08-2016 may not be appropriate in the eyes of the law,” it states further.
The Balochistan government has also objected to not being given any prior notice or adequate opportunity to be heard in this matter. It also pointed out that the Balochistan High Court had not moved any application requesting for the formation of a judicial commission.

The provincial government stated that it had already formed a joint investigation team to probe the August 8 incidents and expressed concern that any parallel inquiry would likely frustrate that investigation

“In case the inquiry contemplated by the court’s October 6 order is conducted, it would set a precedent which could seriously jeopardise the entire criminal justice system in the country.”
The review petition contends that there is no provision of law which confers jurisdiction on this court to establish or nominate a commission for holding an inquiry in relation to an incident involving criminal offence. It adds that “the concurrent and contemporaneous conduct of investigation on the one hand and inquiry on the other hand is likely to seriously prejudice, hinder, hamper and in effect negate the principles of the due process of law.”
The provincial government has also voiced concern that “neither the precise powers to be exercised by the commission nor its terms of reference have been specified in the court’s October 6 order.”

Talking to the newmwn, former Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Kamran Murtaza said he believes the Balochistan government is scared that the commission would expose its negligence and failure. He suggested the provincial government could be dismissed on the basis of the commission’s findings.
A federal senior law officer however supported the provincial government’s move to mistrust Justice Isa. “If a judge wrote an article on the issue then he is disqualified to act as a commission,” he said.