The day the former Gilgit-Baltistan chief judge Rana Shamim’s affidavit came to the light, and the Islamabad High Court took notice of it for scandalizing the sitting judge, one could predict its fate. Now, in an expected move, Rana Muhammad Shamim has recanted his contentious affidavit in which he had claimed that former CJP Saqib Nisar used an Islamabad High Court judge to influence judicial proceedings in order to delay the release of Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz. Besides offering an unconditional apology, Rana Shamim has partially retracted the statements made in his affidavit, which he signed on November 10, 2021. The leaked affidavit claimed that a serving judge of the Islamabad High Court had been forced to delay the release of PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and his daughter. The former chief judge, however, has not retracted his allegations against former chief justice Saqib Nisar, which is the central character of his old and fresh affidavits. The fresh affidavit presented to the court on Friday in response to contempt of court actions brought against him after the publication of his prior affidavit in an English daily in November 202 expresses an unequivocal apology.
There have been concentrated efforts by certain quarters to malign the judiciary on one pretext and another. The Supreme Court also does not exhibit unity on certain issues, and a few judges have expressed their disagreement with their colleagues in written form and those letters often end up in the press. These differences have delayed the appointments of judges to the Supreme Court. Having differences of opinion is a healthy trend, and dissenting notes in judgments are welcome, but when these differences hit the press, it looks like the judicial system is going to be politicized. The public expects that judges will review the situation, and try to solve things without involving the press. The case of the affidavit of Rana Muhammad Shamim, however, is a test case for the judiciary to set out the conduct lessons for the press, politicians, and the former chief judge. Rana Shamim should revisit his thoughts, which are not clear. He went through the deaths of several close family members, including his wife and youngest brother in recent times.