Posted Jul 02, 2007 05:47 pm CDT
In a setback to efforts by Pakistan’s president to remove permanently from office the country’s top judge, the Pakistan Supreme Court has barred intelligence officers from ongoing hearings and ordered courtrooms and the homes of senior judges swept for secret listening devices.
Giving credence to claims by Aitzaz Ahsan, lead counsel for suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, that intelligence agencies are spying on senior judges, the justice presiding over hearings concerning Chaudhry’s suspension ordered the sweeps for bugs Monday, reports AP.
“We feel compelled and left with no option but to order that no unauthorised persons including from intelligence agencies shall enter the offices of this court and the High Court,” the court wrote in its order, according to Reuters.
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf suspended Chaudhry on March 9 for alleged misconduct. However, many see the suspension as an attempt to silence a judge who, contrary to tradition, has supported civil rights and the rule of law rather than defer to the country’s military leadership.
The suspension led to sometimes-violent protests throughout Pakistan, and made Chaudhry, as Time magazine put it, a national hero. It has also created a crisis for Musharraf, threatening his continued leadership of the country.