Former judge accuses ex-CJP Nisar of 'witch-hunt'

SC judge asks why Siddiqui didn't issue contempt notices to military officials for meddling in judicial affairs


Hasnaat Malik December 06, 2021
A collage of former IHC judge Shaukat Siddiqui (L) and former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar.

ISLAMABAD:

Former Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui accused on Monday former chief justice Saqib Nisar of starting a “witch-hunt” against him for being an “independent judge”.

Siddiqui made these remarks in the Supreme Court of Pakistan during the hearing of a plea against his removal from the high court by the Supreme Judicial Council on account of judicial misconduct.

During the hearing, SC Justice Tariq Masood asked why the IHC judge failed to issue contempt notices to the military officials who allegedly approached him to influence proceedings in the Panama Papers case. “Why did the judge entertain the said military officials at his residence at all,” the judge questioned.

At this, Siddiqui approached the rostrum and asked the bench if he should have been removed from his post for not issuing a contempt notice to a general?

“There is a need to understand the circumstances. Then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar was breathing down my neck and wanted to sack me on account of my independent conduct that was irksome to a spy agency at that time,” the former IHC judge claimed.

Siddiqui, visibly emotional, said that he was a lawyer for 30 years, worked as a judge for seven years, and a litigant for two years now. “I understand the judicial system much better,” he claimed. “Now I should be hanged,” he lamented.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial took exception to his tone and said even the “worst litigants” do not address the court in this tone. He also chided lawyer Hamid Khan for allowing his client to address the court.

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“You are not discouraging your client even though he is maligning the institution,” Justice Bandial said while addressing Hamid Khan.

Justice Bandial said the real issue in the case was the dignity of judges and the institution, asking whether the petitioner’s speech at the bar council violated the code of conduct.

SC lawyer Hamid Khan argued that former CJ Saqib Nisar was targeting Siddiqui for a couple of years before he was removed. He said the former judge was put on notice for making observations against the military officials in the Faizabad sit-in case.

Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel questioned why the former judge had been targeted by ex-CJP Nisar.

“Because he [Siddiqui] was annoying the premier spy agency. That’s why a show-cause notice was issued to him,” Hamid Khan replied.

At this, the bench asked the counsel to furnish copies of the SJC notice issued on Feb 22, 2018, and the complaints against the ex-IHC judge’s remarks against the military at the next hearing.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that the SJC didn’t say the allegations levelled by the former judge were false, but his speech at the bar council violated the judicial code of conduct. “Can a judge deliver such a speech at a public forum?” he said.

The lawyer defended his client, saying the speech was delivered at an event hosted by a bar association that is part of the justice system. He added many judges give addresses at bars.

The counsel said that an appropriate inquiry should have been conducted on the allegations levelled against him instead of his removal from the IHC post.

Subsequently, the SC adjourned the hearing till Tuesday (tomorrow).

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