ISLAMABAD: Nothing can be more damaging to the country’s judicial system than an allegation levelled by a high court judge that the apex court was being controlled from outside, a report compiled by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on the removal of the Islamabad High Court judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, notes.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who is senior most among SC judges, wrote in the 39-page report that Justice Siddiqui did not even spare the Supreme Court when he remarked that he knew who sent messages to the apex court and who delivered them.
Such reckless and irresponsible conduct of a high court judge was “not countenanced by any standard of judicial propriety and the Code of Conduct in this country is no exception in that regard”, the report stated.
The council also questioned the justice’s motive for meeting with army officials.
It wondered why Justice Siddiqui “received or entertained” army officers at his residence and discussed judicial matters with them.
“Why did the judge not initiate proceedings against (those) military officers for committing contempt or discussing the matter with the chief justice?”
Justice Siddiqui had deposed that he had met with various officers of intelligence agencies: First he met with a Brigadier Ramay on June 27 and Major-General Faiz Hameed on June 29 and again on July 19.
The former IHC judge had maintained that these officers had tried to persuade him to decide ongoing cases in general, in particular, the Panamagate case. He insisted that these ‘requests’ were sternly turned down.
“It appears that in his desire for publicity of his own virtues he outran his discretion and in the process he tried to cut down the very branch on which he was himself perched,” the SJC report stated.
The SJC report asserted that Justice Siddiqui’s “understanding that an intelligent agency … was … powerful enough to influence majority of the members of constitutional bodies (the SC, IHC and SJC) … appeared to us (to be) naïve, to say the least.
“A judge so apprehensive of the influence or power of an intelligent agency … demonstrates a weakness in his character … and this … raises many questions.”
The report stated that Justice Siddiqui’s public denunciation of the judiciary had lowered the public estimation of all “honest, hardworking, just (and) independent judges”.
The report quoted the IHC judge as having been told by an ISI official that “the chief justice of the IHC had been approached and he had assured that he would constitute a bench with which ISI would be comfortable”.
“It was clear from Justice Siddiqui’s own reply to the show-cause notice that the information about the CJ of the IHC having been approached by operatives of ISI and his (alleged) assurance … was based upon nothing but information (provided) by an official of ISI.”
Justice Siddiqui, the SJC stated, ought to have been careful before relying upon such information and defaming the chief justice of his own court before the public at large on the basis of such “unsubstantiated and unconfirmed information”.
According to the SJC report, the allegation leveled by Justice Siddiqui against the chief justice of the IHC also indirectly cast an aspersion upon the division bench of the IHC which was hear to the case of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter.
“The innuendo was that any bench of that court other than that Justice Siddiqui was to be a bench with which ISI was “comfortable” or “at ease” . Imputing lack of honesty or independence to his own brother judges in the same court and that too publically by itself a misconduct warned by the code of conduct in explicit terms.”
The council lamented that unfortunately, the IHC judge had chosen to believe what an official of ISI had allegedly told him about having control over the fate of any reference pending against a judge before SJC.
“It is sad that instead of believing in the independence of the most senior judges of the country manning the SJC, Justice Siddiqui had opted to believe an official of ISI who had (allegedly) met and tried to allure him … It is sadder (still) that Justice Siddiqui had public(ised) … such newfound but totally unsubstantiated information. As a judge of a high court he was expected to be more discerning and circumspect,” the report stated.
The SJC report noted that Justice Siddiqui had violated the “traditional requirements of behavior expected of a judge of a superior court”.
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