Judicialisation of everything.

THE request for the formation of a full court judicial commission (ie, comprising all 15 serving Supreme Court judges) by the prime minister of Pakistan to inquire into the firing incident against Imran Khan and others at Wazirabad is not only unprecedented but also a virtual declaration that the state of Pakistan has imploded - to the extent that it has become completely dysfunctional and untrustworthy as there are no institutions or state officials who are capable of conducting a fair and impartial inquiry into this firing incident, except a full court judicial commission. A closer examination of this request letter further unravels the imploding nature of the Pakistani state.

Judicial commissions of inquiry: There are past precedents for the formation of such judicial commissions of inquiry in matters of grave public importance or political deadlock - for example, the Hamoodur Rahman Commission (1971), the Memo Commission (2011) and the General Elections 2013 Inquiry Commission. The commissions have always comprised a limited number of judges (for instance, the aforementioned commissions comprised only three judges) of either the Supreme Court or the high court, or both.

There are valid reasons for such a limited number of judges in such commissions. Firstly, a commission does not conclusively decide any controversy; it merely leads to an inquiry report with recommendations for further action. It is not a substitute for normal civil or criminal proceedings.

Secondly, if a commission of inquiry does not decide anything conclusively, what is the need of having all 15 serving Supreme Court judges devote themselves to this task?

What is the need of having all 15 Supreme Court judges devote themselves to the task?

Thirdly, if all the Supreme Court judges are part of this commission, who will hear the challenges to the commission report or appeals from future criminal trials of this firing incident? Will the entire Supreme Court not be considered biased to hear such legal challenges?

In short, if the PML-N-led federal government was serious and unbiased about an inquiry into this firing incident, it could have just followed its own past practice of passing a special law, like the General Elections 2013 Inquiry Commission Ordinance, 2015, and left it to the chief justice of Pakistan to constitute a commission of three or more Supreme Court judges, with perhaps a legal requirement that it should be composed of the senior-most Supreme Court...

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