ISLAMABAD  -  Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui – now ousted senior puisne judge of the Islamabad High Court - remained in the eye of the storm during his tenure as a judge, only because of his own contentious verdicts in high-profile cases and controversial remarks during the court proceedings.

Justice Siddiqui, who was appointed as additional judge of the IHC in November 2011 and was later elevated as a permanent judge, hit the snags for his allegations against the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) that it is meddling in the political affairs and influencing the superior judiciary.

The fallout of his allegations, which one can hardly substantiate, he (Siddiqui) came under the axe of the Supreme Judicial Council and subsequently lost his job following the formal notification of President of Pakistan in this connection.

He accused the secret agency of ‘manipulating’ the judicial bodies and the higher courts while claiming that he was conveyed that all references against him would be removed if he accepted the terms.

While addressing a gathering of lawyers from Rawalpindi District Bar Association on July 21, the judge said: “We are not independent and our institution is in the hands of those carrying guns.”

Before this, Siddiqui was also facing the trial before the Supreme Judicial Council in a corruption reference against him. He was facing the reference on misconduct moved on the complaint by a retired employee of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for alleged refurbishment of official residence beyond entitlement.

It was February 22 when the SJC had issued a show-cause notice to Justice Siddiqui on another reference against him for making unnecessary and unwarranted comments about some “important constitutional institution, saying such comments prima facie had the tendency of undermining the respect otherwise such constitutional institution enjoys”.

Siddiqui also took notice of last year’s violent Faizabad sit-in and made headlines when he criticised the armed forces for their role as the “mediator” in the agreement that led to an end of the sit-in by religious groups at Islamabad’s Faizabad Interchange in November. “Who is the army to adopt a mediator’s role?” the judge had questioned at the time. “Where does the law assign this role to a major general?”

But the first time he gained prominence was when he sentenced the officers of Capital Development Authority (CDA) for failing to demolish illegal Afghan settlements in the federal capital and for not enforcing judicial orders.

Siddiqui is the same judge who in 2013 ruled that Pervez Musharraf, the man who was once Pakistan’s all-powerful military ruler, should be tried on terrorism charges for sacking top judges towards the end of his eight-year rule in 2007.

Siddiqui ruled in his verdict that confining judges to house arrest was an “act of terrorism”. He said that Musharraf had “spread fear in the society, insecurity among the judicial officers, alarm in the lawyers’ community and terror throughout Pakistan”. The ruling and subsequent arrest prompted the former army chief to flee from the court and take refuge in his home in Islamabad’s Chak Shahzad before escaping to Dubai.

On June 29, he had summoned Secretary Ministry of Defence and Director General (DG) Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to appear before the court in person in a petition against encroachments in the federal capital and for not clearing the road in front of its office.

During the proceedings of the same case, Justice Shaukat Aziz also made humble appeal to the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Saqib Nisar not to pass personal or derogatory comments against judges of other courts as all the judges are equally worthy of respect.

He had remarked that while CJP Mian Saqib Nisar has the right to set aside, modify or uphold the verdicts of other judges but he does not have the right to humiliate them.

Siddiqui had continued that if the CJ would not respect the subordinate courts then they would also not be responsible for defending the institution. Judges who are ridiculed by the CJP will be bound to respond to the comments, which will be damaging to the judicial institution, he added. He had maintained that the CJ has no right to ridicule the judges in open court.

Similarly, expressing his annoyance over the alleged interference of secret agencies in the state institutions, Siddiqui made observation on July 18 that the agencies are needed to realise that they have to confine themselves within the limits of organic law of the country.

He had made this observation while hearing a matter of some missing persons and also censured police for being “appeared mum, helpless and not in a position to divulge the truth”.

He noted in his order: “These are very sorry state of affairs and present a gloomy situation which is a challenge to the state of Pakistan, that the police appeared mum, helpless and not in a position to divulge the truth, obviously due to the might of secret forces. Abduction of ordinary citizens, businessmen, advocates and other persons from different walks of life has become a routine in ICT but instead of performing its statutory duty local police come up with a stereotype stance that persons might have disappeared at their own and such statements are always made in those cases in which allegations are levelled against the agencies (ISI).”

In February this year, Siddiqui had also issued notices to MD Waqt channel Ms Rameeza Nizami, anchor Matiullah Jan and his programme team, saying that the anchor hosted the programme on February 5 in which his name was repeated time and again with mala fide intention, ulterior motive and in order to mislead the viewers.

In response to the said notices, MD Waqt Channel, anchor of the programme, producer, assistant producer, Barrister Taimoor Aslam Khan counsel for the MD and Syed Safeer Hussain Shah Advocate, the counsel for team of the programme had appeared before the court.

Siddiqui also actively took active part in the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of superior judiciary, especially former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary, following the emergency imposed by the Gen (Retd) Musharraf in 2007. He was also arrested by Rawalpindi police for staging a protest.

He represented as an attorney in 2007 and helped bail out Maulana Abdul Aziz who was charged in multiple cases in connection with the Lal Masjid standoff.

Siddiqui, who is the senior most judge after IHC chief justice, had also taken a notice of blasphemous content on the social media, which was later removed on court order. Officials from Facebook also visited the country and assured such controversial content would not be uploaded on the social networking site in the future.

He was also part of the two-member bench which excluded anti-terrorism clauses from the case against Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, but upheld his conviction under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

It was Justice Siddiqui who had restricted all kinds of protests to Democracy Park and Speech Corner (DPSC) at Parade Ground near Shakarparian last year.

On October 31, 2016, he also stopped the PTI from locking down the federal capital and asked the party to hold its protest at the DPSC which the district administration and the CDA allocated for political gatherings in November 2015.

The detailed judgment in this matter said: “In future, all political and/or religious protests/rallies etc., in Islamabad should be confined to the Democracy Park and Speech Corner without any discrimination, fear or favour.”

He was the judge who banned celebrations of Valentine’s Day and termed it an “un-Islamic event”.

In the past, Siddqui had contested the polls from Rawalpindi on Jamaat-e-Islami ticket, which he lost. He was born on 1st July, 1959, in Rawalpindi and has recently donated Rs1 million (the net salary for the month of June) to the Supreme Court fund for Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams.

In a letter addressed to the registrar of the apex court, Siddiqui said the receipt of the contribution might kindly be issued in the name of his late parents Qazi Aziz-ur-Rehman and Mrs Ume Kalsoom.

Most of the family members of Siddiqui are involved in parting education in different institutions. His late father was known as a social and political worker, who enjoyed the office of elected Chairman of Local Bodies.

 

 

The judge who was a law unto himself