The drama began late last night after several TV news channels reported that the PPP-led government was contemplating the withdrawal of a notification issued in March last year to restore the Chief Justice and dozens of members of the superior judiciary, who were sacked by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf during the 2007 emergency.
The Chief Justice and all judges of the apex court, who were in their homes when the channels beamed the news, returned to the court and held a meeting that continued well past midnight.
A statement issued to the media at about 1 am local time said the Chief Justice had constituted a 17-member full bench to take up the government's alleged intentions to de-notify the restoration of judges.
When the full bench convened this morning, Chaudhry told Attorney General Anwar-ul-Haq to submit a statement signed by Prime Minister Gilani giving the government's viewpoint.
The bench told Haq that the court wanted to fully understand the government's stand on the matter.
The apex court issued the order despite a statement issued by Gilani last night in which he said that the media reports about withdrawing the notification for the restoration of the judges were "baseless."
Gilani said "certain elements" were trying to create a "bad taste among the institutions but these conspiracies will fail."
"We respect judiciary. The government will take every possible step for strengthening of institutions. The Pakistan People's Party's leadership has scarified their lives for the independence of judiciary," he said.
During today's proceedings, Chief Justice Chaudhry observed that reports about the removal of key judges were seen in the media whenever the apex court took up any important case against the government.
He said the apex court had been showing tolerance despite abusive language being used against the judiciary. "Why is the government getting into a confrontation with the judiciary?" the Chief Justice asked the Attorney General.
Chaudhry agreed with the Attorney General's observation that there should be an inquiry into yesterday's media reports about the withdrawal of the notification restoring the deposed judges.
The standoff comes at a time when the apex court has mounted pressure on the government to implement its verdict annulling the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), a graft amnesty issued by Musharraf that benefited over 8,000 people, including President Asif Ali Zardari and several close aides.
The government has not yet acted on the apex court's order to revive corruption cases against Zardari in Switzerland, saying the President enjoys immunity from prosecution under the Constitution.
The apex court is currently hearing a suo motu case on the implementation of its order striking down the NRO and directing the government to reopen graft cases against those who benefited from the graft amnesty.
The court will take up the government's application seeking a review of the order annulling the NRO on November 1.