SJC begins first ever open trial against sitting judge today

Justice Siddiqui had alleged ISI influence over judicial proceedings


Hasnaat Malik July 30, 2018
Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) which hears complaints of misconduct against the superior court judges, will initiate an open inquiry against Islamabad High Court judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui today (Monday).

The five member SJC led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar will hear the complaint against the IHC judge at 4 o clock. It is learnt that Justice Siddiqui is expected to appear himself along with counsel Hamid Khan. The hearing is significant after Justice Siddiqui’s allegations of ISI manipulating judicial proceedings.

This is the first time that an inquiry is being conducted against any judge of the superior judiciary in an open court.

According to SJC rules, any inquiry against a judge is to be held in-camera. The judge himself requested that inquiry against him should be conducted in open court. So far, eight allegations have been levelled against Justice Siddiqui in the complaint pending against him since 2015.

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Last week, the judge moved two applications before the SJC seeking relevant record enabling him to prepare his defence against the accusations.

The judge has also pleaded to pass direction for obtaining total expenditure incurred on maintenance of each official accommodation in occupation of judges of the top court, Federal Shariat Court and all the High Courts, in the last seven years. Other details sought include (i) expenses incurred on the houses owned by the judges, but declared official accommodations, (ii) list and particulars of those SC judges, who despite having official accommodations received or are still receiving house rent allowance of Rs65,000 per month,  (iii) details of furniture and other articles provided in the official accommodations at state expense along with the intervening period of maintenance, change of furniture and other items, (iv) details of alterations, additions made on direction of the judges in these accommodations.

It is expected that the counsel for IHC judge will argue on both applications for getting relevant record.

Open trial of IHC judge on 30th

In the previous hearing, the council held that proceedings will be reported in the matter related to IHC judge but no public comments shall be made.

“We direct that no media discussion, articles or editorials shall be written or published in this matter and no public comments shall be made…only proceedings of the council shall be reported,” said the two-page order.

The order, however, noted that this council shall be entitled to revert to in-camera proceedings in case there is a situation as ‘contemplated in the apex court’s May 10, 2018 order. “We allow proceedings in this matter to be held in open court subject to the restrictive measures taken by the council regarding attendance and presence of persons in court,” said the order.

Likewise, Judicial Commission of Pakistan (JCP) will also consider the appointment of Justice Tahira Safdar as Chief Justice Balochistan High Court today, making her the first women judge in Pakistan to be appointed as the chief justice of any high court.

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