Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Another day of protests by lawyers and political parties is coming up on Friday when ousted Chief Justice Ifthikar Chaudhary is scheduled to appear again before the Supreme Judicial Council that is enquiring into the presidential reference against him.

Major political parties, including Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif, religious parties, civil society groups aside from lawyers are planning to hold demonstrations outside the Supreme Court.

In an address to the Lahore High Court Bar Association, Aitzaz Ahsan, defence counsel for Mr. Chaudhary, said he did not expect to get justice from the Supreme Judicial Council in its present form. He said one of the judges in the panel was not even on talking terms with Mr. Chaudhary, while the other two had references pending against them.

Demanding an open hearing, Mr. Ahsan, who is also a senior PPP leader and a parliamentarian, said the Government's intentions in sending the reference against him to the judicial oversight panel were "malafide" and this was the reason it was avoiding open proceedings.

Mr. Ahsan said he believed that the Chief Justice was removed because the Government considered him a threat after some of his decisions. He said Mr. Chaudhary's decision against the privatisation of the Pakistan Steel Mills was an indictment of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.