ISI is not above the law, says top judge

  • Apex court directs Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency to specify date by which roadblocks outside headquarters will be removed
  • Justice Nisar says IHC acted beyond its mandate by taking suo motu notices, suspends Justice Siddiqui’s directive to ISI


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday suspended an earlier Islamabad High Court (IHC) directive to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to clear the roadblocks on Khayaban-i-Suharwardy within a week, directing the country’s top spy agency to specify a date by which it would remove the blockades from the main road in front of its headquarters at Aabpara Chowk in the federal capital.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar observed that the spy agency is not above the law and it should have complied with the top court’s earlier directives pertaining to roadblocks, however, he observed that the IHC had acted beyond its mandate by taking suo motu notice of the issue.

On June 22, IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had directed the ISI to clear the portion of Khayaban-i-Suharwardy in front of its headquarters in a week’s time.

It is pertinent to mention here that Justice Siddiqui, who is also facing a misconduct reference in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), had earlier criticised Chief Justice Nisar for “insulting” judges during court hours, while referring to an earlier incident in which the CJP had tossed the mobile phone of Larkana Additional District Judge Gul Zamir Solangi during court hours.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the defence secretary, challenging the high court’s directive, argued that IHC neither has the authority nor jurisdiction to take suo motu notices and issue orders on such matters.

The three-judge bench, headed by the CJP, agreed with the appellant’s argument and suspended the IHC decision.

“The high court does not have the right to take suo motu notices; we suspend its order,” the CJP remarked.

Justice Nisar then ordered Deputy Attorney General Nayab Gardezi to inquire from the ISI why it had erected blockades on Khayaban-i-Suharwardy, a road which is part of Islamabad’s master plan.

“Bring us the master plan and let us know why the road was shut down,” Justice Nisar ordered, directing ISI officials to inform the court when the blockades will be removed from the road.

The court’s orders against encroachment on public land all over Pakistan have been issued, and the ISI is not exempted from it, he said. “Call the ISI chief. Why has the road not been opened for public use despite court orders? This road has to be opened because it’s causing trouble for the public,” he asserted.

Citing security issues as the reason for the ISI’s blockage of the thoroughfare, the deputy attorney general assured the court that the road will be opened when the security concerns are eliminated.

“[Also], we closed the road but we also built an alternative, which was also allotted in writing by the Capital Development Authority,” he added.

The case was adjourned until Friday.

Earlier in March, the top court had taken notice of Capital Development Authority blocking the road and had ordered the civic agency to explain why and on whose orders Khayaban-i-Suharwardy had been blocked for the past few years.

“Blocking of main roads in the name of security cannot be allowed,” the chief justice had remarked, adding that everyone is equal before the law.