The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Chaudhry allowed to challenge ouster

Islamabad, June 11: The Pakistan supreme court today allowed Chief Justice Muhammad Chaudhry to contest his suspension by President Pervez Musharraf in a major victory for the top judge.

Musharraf had suspended Chaudhry on March 9 for alleged misconduct. Chaudhry complained to the supreme court challenging the ouster.

The court today rejecetd government pleas to dismiss the judge’s petition, paving the way for a detailed examination of the suspension.

Chaudhry’s senior lawyers hailed the court’s decision as a major victory in the tug-of-war between the chief justice and Musharraf.

Chaudhry had challenged the impartiality of the Supreme Judicial Council that was set up to examine the reference filed by Musharraf against the chief justice.

The hearings were suspended pending the outcome of the supreme court deliberations.

In the petition, Chaudhry challenged Musharraf’s decision to send the reference to the council, saying it was done with the “mala fide and collateral” purpose of the referring authority and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

“We are happy over the court’s decision,” Chaudhry’s senior counsel Tariq Mehmud said.

He added: “We were 99.99 per cent sure that the court will not reject our petition.”

Earlier, law minister Wasi Zafar said in Islamabad that the government had prepared a new reference against Chaudhry which will be sent to the council at an appropriate time. Zafar said the new reference would deal with activities of the chief justice after March 9.

“Any new reference by the government will reflect its bad intentions and further establish the fact that it failed to achieve whatever nefarious objectives it had while filing the first reference,” Chaudhry’s chief lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan said.

Ahsan said the reference was sent to the council after the chief justice refused to resign during a meeting with Musharraf and intelligence chiefs.

In the affidavits submitted by the intelligence chiefs in the court last Friday, they rejected Chaudhry’s claim that he was pressured to resign.

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