The top court has finally fixed sacked Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s petition on May 17 against his removal by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
A five-judge larger bench of the Supreme Court -- headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Sardar Tariq Masood,
Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah -- will hear the constitutional petition seeking to set aside a report of the SJC and a notification issued by the law ministry on October 11, 2018.
On January 28 this year, the larger bench had issued a notice to the attorney general for Pakistan for his assistance on the maintainability of ex-IHC judge's petition in view of the Constitution’s Article 21, which read that the SJC proceedings could not be challenged in any court of law.
Interestingly, the bench in its order noted that the case be fixed for an early date.
Even the sacked IHC judge had moved the court for an early hearing.
However, the case could not be fixed for hearing in the last five months. The sacked IHC judge will be 62 years old next month.
President Arif Alvi had removed Justice Siddiqui as a judge of the IHC on the recommendation of the SJC.
The president had made the decision under Article 209(5) on the SJC’s recommendation under Article 209(6) read with Article 48(1) of the Constitution, as per a notification issued by the law ministry.
The council unanimously opined that while delivering a speech before the District Bar Association in Rawalpindi on July 21, 2018,
Justice Siddiqui had displayed a conduct unbecoming of a high court judge.
This was the opinion of the five members of the SJC, led by the then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar.
Other judges on the panel at that time included Justice (retd) Asif Saeed Khosa, incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmad, the then chief justice of the Lahore High Court Yawar Ali and the then chief justice of the Sindh High Court Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh.
Justice Siddiqui in his speech at the Rawalpindi District Bar Association on July 21, 2018 targeted the country’s top spy agency and accused it of manipulating judicial proceedings.
In March, Siddiqui's case was adjourned until the issuance of the judgment in Justice Qazi Faez Isa case.
Now, Hamid Khan will appear on behalf of the former IHC judge.
In his petition, Siddiqui 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.
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 read.