SC admits former IHC judge Siddiqui's petition against sacking

SJC recommended his removal for conduct unbecoming of a high court judge


Hasnaat Mailk February 21, 2019
Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID / EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday admitted a constitutional petition filed by former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, challenging his removal from the judicial office.

Justice Azmat Saeed dismissed the objections put forth by the SC registrar office during an in-chamber appeal.

In October 2018, President Arif Alvi sacked Siddiqui under Article 209(5) on the SJC recommendation under Article 209(6) read with Article 48(1) of the Constitution. The SJC recommended his sacking for displaying conduct unbecoming of a high court judge over July 21 speech at the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi - in which he targeted the country’s top spy agency.

IHC’s Justice Siddiqui appears before SJC

The sacking

The report compiled by the SJC on Siddiqui's removal noted that "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".

It added that "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 council questioned the justice’s motive for meeting with army officials. It wondered why 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?”

“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 Siddiqui’s “understanding that an intelligent agency … was … powerful enough to influence the majority of the members of constitutional bodies (the SC, IHC and SJC) … appeared to us (to be) naïve, to say the least."

It stated that Siddiqui’s public denunciation of the judiciary had lowered the public estimation of all “honest, hardworking, just (and), independent judges”.

SC registrar objects to sacked IHC judge’s petition

The petition

In November 2018, Siddiqui approached the top court with a constitution petition against the decision. The petition was dismissed by SC registrar office after raising objections: 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 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 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 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 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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