Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed on Tuesday constituted a larger bench to hear sacked Islamabad High Court (IHC) Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui's petition on December 9.
The larger bench is headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial; Justice Sajjad Ali Shah has been added to the bench after the retirement of Justice Faisal Arab.
Siddiqui, in his constitutional petition requested the SC to set aside a report of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice on October 11, 2018.
President Dr Arif Alvi had removed Justice Siddiqui as judge of the IHC on the recommendation of the SJC.
Alvi had taken the decision under Article 209(5) on the SJC recommendation, under Article 209(6), read with Article 48(1) of the Constitution, a notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice stated.
The council unanimously agreed that while delivering a speech before the District Bar Association in Rawalpindi on July 21, 2018, Siddiqui had displayed a conduct unbecoming of a high court judge.
This was the opinion of the five members of the SJC, led by former chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar.
At the time, other judges on the panel included Justice (retd) Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, the current CJP, the former Lahore High Court (LHC) chief justice Yawar Ali and former chief justice of the Sindh High Court (SHC) Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh.
In his petition, Siddiqui contended that he had been sacked without a proper inquiry to prove the claims he made during his controversial speech.
Challenging his removal, Siddiqui raised serious allegations of “bias” against the former CJP, who was also the SJC chairman.
In the 30-page petition, the former judge 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 in affairs of the judiciary and alleged manipulation in formation of benches.
“The remarks made by the petitioner [Siddiqui] were an honest attempt demanded by his conscience to counter the challenges posed to the independence of the judiciary,” the petition argued.
In the petition, Siddiqui recalled how he had issued orders on June 29 and August 18 to clear roads and a green belt outside the Inter-Services Intelligence (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, expressed annoyance.
Subsequently, the petition 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 regarding the conduct of his subordinate and suggested some guidance to protect the prestige of the institution by modifying the orders.
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