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Pak court shuts door on snoops
Remove all bugs: Judges

Islamabad, July 2 (Agencies): Pakistan’s supreme court, holding a hearing into government attempts to dismiss the country’s top judge, barred intelligence officials from the court today and ordered the building checked for bugging devices.

The court also stripped a government lawyer’s licence after he filed a document containing abusive references against the judges.

The order came after a lawyer for suspended chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had repeatedly complained that intelligence officers were “swarming” the court and spying on judges.

The supreme court said it had to act. “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,” it said in an order.

The order is likely to be an embarrassment for the government of President Pervez Musharraf, who suspended Chaudhry on March 9 over accusations of misconduct.

While the supreme court has been hearing Chaudhry’s challenge to his suspension, lawyers supporting him have joined forces with the Opposition to mount the most serious challenge to Musharraf’s rule since he took power in a 1999 coup.

The supreme court gave the chief of one security agency, the Intelligence Bureau, a week to check the court and judges’ homes for bugs.

Men who say they are from security agencies have been regularly attending hearings of Chaudhry’s case.

The judges were visibly angered by comments describing them as “pimps” in the documents filed by government counsel Chaudhry Akhtar Ali.

The counsel responded by saying: “The time was too short, I was not able to read the documents.”

“You took a risk to please your client and you have to face the consequences,” Justice Khalil-ur-Rehman Ramday said.

“You want to malign every body. We will take action against them who have prepared these documents,”he added.

Earlier, Justice Chaudhry’s lead counsel Aitzaz Ahsan had brought the derogatory comments to the notice of the judges of the supreme court.

He told the bench that the documents were filed “to scandalise the judges of the supreme court”.

Later, government lawyer Malik Mohammed Qayyum withdrew the controversial material and apologised.

The court dismissed the material as withdrawn. It fined the government lawyers Rs 100,000 and ordered that the amount be paid to the flood victims of Baluchistan.

The court was adjourned till tomorrow.

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