ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui has raised objection to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to examine his July 21 speech in which he accused the military establishment of manipulating the judicial proceedings.
Sources have revealed to The Express Tribune that IHC judge has submitted 13-page ‘preliminary reply’ over the third show cause notice issued to him by the council on July 31 over his controversial speech at the Rawalpindi District Bar Association.
“The IHC judge has said the SJC is not an appropriate forum to take up this matter as facts need to be investigated. It is also said the address was made to legal fraternity for the purpose of independence of judiciary and its precedent was set by former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry,” a source said.
The source said the IHC judge has requested to withdraw the show cause notice and asked to form a commission to probe into the matter. “The same judge has already written a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar to form a commission led by a serving or retired Supreme Court judge, who did not take oath under [Musharraf’s] PCO [Provisional Constitutional Order].”
It is learnt that Justice Siddiqui has quoted precedents from foreign jurisdictions like India where no departmental inquiry was started against judges, who addressed a press conference on the alleged discrimination in the constitution of benches. He contends that his speech is not misconduct until it is proved that he lied before bar.
The sources said Justice Siddiqui has also sought two-week time to file detailed reply in this matter but the council has asked him to submit the same within a week. The council in its order has already said the reply will be examined on August 28.
Justice Siddiqui has also approached the Supreme Court against the SJC’s decision seeking records of expenses incurred on the maintenance of official residences of all superior court judges.
A constitution petition has been filed against the SJC’s July 30 order that dismissed his application requesting the SC to direct the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to provide him relevant record so that he might prepare his defence.
“All the record related to expenses/expenditure incurred by other judges and civil servants in respect of the official accommodations. It is only just and fair that petitioner (Justice Siddqui) is treated equally in accordance with law, which is fundamental right of the petitioner under Article 25 of the constitution.
“If the petitioner gets access to certain record relating to the expenses incurred by some judges of the Lahore High Court, it would show that invariably large sums were spent on the renovations of the official residences. It is thus only just and fair that the said record is requisitioned by this court,” says the petition filed by Siddiqui through his counsel Hamid Khan.
The petition says the SJC passed order in haste without application of mind based on the procedural impropriety against the principles of natural justice. The justice should not be done but must manifestly be seen to be done. It is most essential feature of fair and safe administration of justice that an accused is provided full and fair opportunity to prepare his defence and disapprove the case against him.
It says in the absence of such record, which is any case an official record, the IHC judge will be denied the right to fair trial and due process. “This record can be summoned by the apex court and its relevance can be determined,” it adds.