ISLAMABAD: For the first time in Pakistan’s judicial history, a sitting judge facing allegations of misconduct and violation of the code of conduct stood trial in an open court before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) – a constitutional body tasked with scrutinising conduct of judges – on Monday.
On the first day of the open-court hearing on a reference against Islamabad High Court’s Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, SJC’s five-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar dismissed all three applications and remarked that the bench intends to conclude the reference within three days.
The bench dismissed the judge’s applications, seeking relevant record from the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Public Works Department (PWD) and others for the purposes of defence, on grounds that the record was not relevant to his case.
As the bench and counsel were exchanging words in the packed court room No.1 of the apex court, Justice Siddiqui stood up from his seat, reached the rostrum and addressed the bench: “Please do justice to me in these proceedings at least once.” CJP while addressing Siddiqui’s counsel, Hamid Khan, reminded him that he had promised there will not be any such conduct from the judge during the open-court proceedings. “It is our prerogative to decide applications not your right,” CJP remarked. “We are not throwing anybody out. Ask your client to give respect to court,” he said to Khan.
SJC begins first ever open trial against sitting judge today
“We have to counter the allegation that we do not keep our house in order. We will decide this case within three days and you had agreed to cooperate even if proceedings continue till 12pm,” CJP Nisar said to the counsel. “I don’t want to leave my baggage behind me. We have to decide other references as well. Why do not you believe the court would do justice in your case,” the top judge continued.
“You [Justice Siddiqui] will get a clean chit if no case is made out against you. I don’t want to be embarrassed on the Day of Judgment. We also want to provide you peace of mind. We want that justice is served to a judge and you know justice is delivered here,” CJP Nisar added.
Following the dismissal of applications, Justice Nisar emphasised and reiterated that Khan should continue with statement and cross examination of the complainant in the reference against Justice Siddiqui, Ali Anwar Gopang, a CDA official. The counsel, however, repeatedly asked judges to issue a written order over his applications and adjourn the case for a day without recording evidence.
“There shouldn’t be any impression of haste,” Khan said. “No, it’s not like that,” CJP responded, adding let the evidence be recorded. “You may first issue the order over dismissal of applications,” Khan asked. “We will release the order later on,” CJP said. “Initially you said you would decide the applications later on but now you have dismissed the applications. We needed the record for our defence. We need level-playing field but at the moment CDA has all the record,” Khan said. “We will see if the record is required at a later stage,” CJP remarked, adding the counsel should begin with statement and cross-examination on witness’ affidavit submitted a year ago. Khan replied he was not yet ready for cross-examination.
In the applications, Justice Siddiqui sought details of the total expenditure incurred on the maintenance of each official accommodation in occupation of judges of Supreme Court, Federal Shariat Court and all the high courts in the last seven years as well as expenses incurred on the houses owned by the judges, but declared official accommodations.
Case of misconduct: Counsel argues for open trial of IHC judge
List and particulars of those judges of superior courts who despite having official accommodations kept on receiving or still receiving house rent allowance of Rs65,000 per month, he stated in one application, adding details of furniture and other articles provided in the official accommodations at state expense be also provided. He has also sought details of maintenance, change of furniture, household articles, alteration/modification/additions made on the direction of judges in the official accommodations. One application sought SJC’s indulgence to drop charge of house maintenance.
Moreover, in the applications, Justice Siddiqui sought details and comparative statement of expenses incurred on all official accommodations by the CDA on its pool, details of inquiries and criminal proceedings initiated against Ali Anwar Gopang and the status of inquiry about illegal appointments made by him and about his son Kashif Awnar Gopang, list of all relatives of Ali Anwar Gopang working in the CDA, details of judicial proceedings, including contempt of court against Ali Anwar Gopang.
Also, he sought details of inquiries and criminal proceedings against one Ghulam Sarwar Sindhu and different judicial proceedings pending against him and observations made against his conduct by the IHC, in particular regarding cases concerning the diplomatic shuttle service contract, carved out plots from parks, playgrounds, green areas and providing direct access to petrol pumps, CNG stations from the Islamabad Highway, instead of service roads, service record and the manner in which he got the post of the DG (Planning), a comparative statement of construction at House No2, Street No60, F-7/4 Islamabad before and after allotment to the applicant, date on which the house was vacated by Tariq Aziz, the then Principal Secretary to the General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, condition of house at the time of allotment to the applicant, details of expenditure incurred by CDA/PWD on the direction of earlier occupant, details of alterations, modifications and additions made at the behest of Tariq Aziz.
He also sought to know on whose orders the terrace of the house was converted into a “bar”, and why the green area of both sides of house was encroached upon and protected by huge concrete blocks at the time of the allotment to the applicant and who ordered to remove these blocks.
Among the allegations, the judge has allegedly been facing allegations of putting undue pressure upon CDA causing pecuniary losses to exchequer while deciding several cases, allegedly got a friend’s daughter appointed as a research associate in IHC, got allotment of government accommodation thrice and managed to swap house from PWD to CDA for maintenance purposes.
Judges misconduct: SJC decides recording evidences
Also, the judge is facing allegations of routinely calling government functionaries to appear in court while often insulting and threatening them and for passing orders in a few specific petitions without application of judicial mind. The charge sheet says that his actions are unbecoming of the holder of a high constitutional office and are in violation of the code of conduct.
While dismissing the applications, the court adjourned the case till July 31 (today) with direction to the counsel to cross examine the witness.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ