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Pak court puts off hearing on suspended CJ's suspension
Islamabad, June 8 (PTI) The Pakistan Supreme Court bench hearing the petition of the suspended chief justice today put off the ruling on its maintainability till next week apparently due to differences among the ranks of judges.

The hearing of Iftikar M Chaudhry's petition started off on a shaky note with both government and defence lawyers exchanging heated words, prompting Justice Khalil-ur-Ramday, heading the full court bench, to issue a warning to both sides that if they continue to disrupt, the bench would call off its proceedings.

After sometime, court official announced that the bench would not meet for the day and instead resume hearing on June 11.

The announcement to put off the case gave rise to suspicions that divisions prevailed in the ranks of the 13-member bench over admissibility of Chaudhry's petition challenging the presidential reference against him and the judges wanted more time to sort out their differences.

The court has not yet decided on the admissibility of the petition despite four weeks of arguments.

It first has to decide on the admissibility and later on its merits specially Chaudhry's contention that President Pervez Musharraf has malafide intention in filing charges against him and the supreme judicial council (SJC) has no jurisdiction to conduct trial against him.

Meanwhile, the lead attorney for the suspended judge, Aitaaz Ahsan accused top government officials of lying in affidavits that denied Chaudhry's account of his ouster.

"All these are based on fabrications and fairy tales which we can establish to the court. There are total lies in the affidavits...This is a criminal act," Ahsan said.

Earlier, uproarious scenes prevailed during the hearing of the petition as defence and government lawyers exchanged heated words prompting the court to threaten to call off proceedings if they continued to disrupt proceedings.

Asking the lawyers of both sides not to convert the proceedings into a "fish market," Ramday said if such scenes continued the court will rise and would not proceed with the case.

The verbal clash occurred a day after the Chiefs of the Intelligence agencies and the Chief of Staff of President Musharraf filed counter affidavits refuting Chaudhry's earlier allegations that he was physically prevented from leaving Musharraf's office after he declined to quit.

As the court met today to continue the hearing of Chaudhry's petition, his defence lawyers rose to make a point interrupting the submissions of government's lawyers.

The two sides then clashed disregarding the pleas of Ramday to stop. After repeated attempts, Ramday delivered the final warning following which the two sides calmed down and the government lawyers continued their arguments.

Earlier, a government lawyer said Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz may have to quit if the apex court reinstates the suspended judge.

Mallik M Qayyum, who is in the panel of lawyers representing the government in the case, last night said that Aziz may have to go because he forwarded the reference of allegations against Chaudhry to Musharraf who in turn passed it on to the SJC.

He said if in the event of any adverse judgement reinstating Chaudhry, Aziz has to take responsibility. "But in Pakistan anyone has resigned on principle ever," he asked.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
FILED IN: |Pakistan
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