Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, who was criticised by the ruling alliance for greeting former prime minister Imran Khan in the Supreme Court with the words “good to see you”, clarified on May 16 that it was part of court etiquette and carried no political connotation.
Chief Justice Bandial made these remarks during Mr. Khan's appearance before the Supreme Court after his arrest in the Al-Qadir Trust corruption case sparked violent protests by his supporters.
A federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that the way Chief Justice Bandial greeted Mr. Khan, the chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was a blot on the face of the country’s judiciary.
Clarifying his demeanour, Chief Justice Bandial said: "I am being criticised for greeting Mr. Khan in the same manner; however, I use this phrase often".
“I hold everyone in high esteem as respect and courteousness are important for everybody,” Geo TV quoted him as saying.
“Everyone is deserving of basic respect and good manners,” The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
Mr. Khan’s dramatic arrest led to miscreants torching and damaging over 80 vehicles of law enforcement agencies besides damaging 14 state buildings/installations in Punjab province.
The miscreants, who are mostly members of Mr. Khan’s PTI, set on fire the Corps Commander House known as Jinnah House in Lahore to vent their anger over the arrest of Mr. Khan.
Mr. Khan was on Friday granted bail by a three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Bandial after the National Accountability Bureau arrested him on charges of accepting millions of dollars worth of property in exchange for providing benefits to a real estate tycoon.
The ruling alliance staged a sit-in right outside the apex court on Monday, with PML-N chief organiser Maryam Nawaz Sharif on Monday demanding the resignation of Chief Justice Bandial, blaming him for the "anarchy" and "crisis" in Pakistan.
Prime Minister Sharif-led cabinet has also condemned Chief Justice Bandial’s intervention in the arrest of Mr. Khan who is facing more than 120 cases across the country.
Addressing the cabinet, Prime Minister Sharif called the “double standards of justice.”
Pakistan's National Assembly on Monday unanimously adopted a motion seeking the formation of a special committee to file a case against Chief Justice Bandial in the Supreme Judicial Council for his "misconduct and deviating from oath", escalating the tension between the government and the top judiciary.
The motion — moved by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was unanimously adopted by the house, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
Speaking in the National Assembly, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that the time has come for Parliament to play its constitutional role in this situation.
Mr. Asif demanded the formation of a parliamentary committee to probe the judiciary's undue support to former prime minister Mr. Khan as well as sending a notice to the Supreme Judicial Council under Article 209 of the Constitution on the matter.