SC registrar objects to sacked IHC judge’s petition

'It was obligatory upon the SJC to probe the allegations'


Our Correspondent November 01, 2018
Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD:  

The Supreme Court (SC) registrar office on Thursday returned a constitution petition of Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui against his removal by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

The SC registrar office raised three objections. The office said the deposed judge was approaching the apex court for redressal of individual grievances which is not permissible under the judgment law. Likewise, he did not approach the proper forum for redressal of his grievances

In his petition, the former IHC judge had contended that he had been sacked without a proper inquiry to prove the claims he made during his controversial speech at the Rawalpindi Bar Association.

The SJC had unanimously opined that while delivering the speech on July 21, “Siddiqui, an IHC judge, displayed a conduct unbecoming of a high court judge”. Challenging his removal, Siddiqui has raised serious allegations of ‘bias’ against the CJP, who is also the SJC chairman.

In the 30-page appeal, the former judge having seven years of judicial experience had explained the context in which he was compelled to address the bar association and utter remarks about alleged involvement of certain officers from the executive organ of the state, specifically the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in affairs of the judiciary and alleged manipulation in formation of benches of the high court.

“The remarks made by the petitioner [Mr Siddiqui] were an honest attempt demanded by his conscience to counter the challenges posed to the independence of the judiciary,” the appeal argued.

In the appeal, Mr Siddiqui recalled how he had issued orders on June 29 and Aug 18 to clear roads and a green belt outside the ISI headquarters. Consequently, he added, a senior official of the ISI — named in the petition — visited him at his residence and asked him to review the decision and when he refused, annoyance was expressed.

Subsequently, the appeal said, another high-ranking official of the ISI — also named in the petition — approached the former judge at his residence on June 29 to apologise the conduct of his subordinate and suggested some guidance to protect the prestige of the institution by modifying the orders.

The petition said the former judge had explained that he could not go beyond his orders and, therefore, the same should be respected and implemented unless set aside or modified by the Supreme Court.

Seeing his reluctance, the petition contended, the high-ranking official agreed and assured that the ISI would proceed in accordance with the law, but requested others present in the room to leave as he intended to talk to the former judge in private.

Thereafter, the petition said, the ISI official inquired about the procedure of hearing of appeals filed by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the high court against his conviction by an accountability court. It was quite strange that how the ISI official was so certain about the conviction of the accused, but the former judge exercised restraint, it said.

Siddiqui wondered when the ISI officer was aware of the legal procedure and certain about the outcome of the trial then why he was asking about it. He claimed that the officer straightaway asked him what would be his view in case the appeals of Mr Sharif came before him.

According to Mr Siddiqui’s petition, he replied that the cases were decided as per the oath administered to every judge and purely on merit instead of any other consideration. He said he had told the officer that in case the matter came before him it would be decided purely on merit as he was answerable to Allah.

In response, the petition said, comments passed by the officer were shocking and highly deplorable. The petition alleged that the officer had conceded that influence was used to remove the judge from the bench he was heading as there were apprehensions that he might decide in favour of Mr Sharif. The officer also sought an assurance from him that the bail plea of the former prime minister would not be taken up before the general elections 2018 and on receiving the same reply that the matter would be decided in accordance with the law, the officer left, the petition said.

On both occasions the officer came on the official vehicle of the ICT administration, it said.

The petition highlighted that the former judge had personally approached the IHC chief justice three times regarding alleged manipulation in constitution of the high court’s benches.

Siddiqui pleaded in the petition that his conduct did not warrant such harsh step of his removal from the office of a permanent high court judge.

The petition contended that the SJC considered the letter of the IHC chief justice as gospel truth against him despite the fact that it was not an affidavit. It said that later the chief justice was exonerated from all references he was facing.

The former judge said in the petition that it was obligatory upon the SJC to probe the allegations levelled by him in the interest of justice in a properly conducted trial to uphold the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, which was the basic feature of the Constitution.

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