Incensed by a ‘smear campaign’ in the media, Islamabad High Court Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Tuesday recused himself from a bench hearing an appeal of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in case involving the 2007 detention of top judges of the country.
As the bench – comprising Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui – resumed hearing on Tuesday, Justice Siddiqui disassociated himself from the case saying that the media had launched a malicious campaign against him after he rejected the bail application of Musharraf on April 18, 2013.
“I cannot hear this appeal due to a malicious campaign against me in the print and electronic media after the bail cancellation of Musharraf,” said Justice Siddiqui in the packed courtroom.
On 18 April Justice Siddiqui had ordered the arrest of Musharraf while inserting terrorism charges in the FIR for confining judges following the proclamation of emergency on November 3, 2007.
Following Justice Siddiqui’s recusal, the second member of the two-judge, Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan adjourned the court for Wednesday (today) while referring the matter to IHC Chief Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi.
On May 24, 2013, the former military ruler filed an appeal in the IHC after a trial court rejected his post-arrest bail in this case. On the last date of hearing, the bench had sought record from the prosecution. However, on Tuesday Justice Siddiqui refused to hear the case.
The case is based on an FIR which was registered against Musharraf on August 11, 2009 by the Secretariat police for allegedly detaining over 60 judges, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. A day earlier, over 10 lawyers had recorded their statements at the Shalimar police station. The case is also pending in the anti-terrorism court which will take up the matter on June 6.
It is noted that since the arrest of Musharraf, the prosecution had failed to submit a complete challan as the statements of judges are essential. Earlier, the Secretariat police SHO had approached the Supreme Court registrar to record the statements of the judges who were detained on November 3, 2007. However, the registrar had not given him a positive response.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2013.