ISLAMABAD   -   President Arif Alvi has removed IHC judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, on the unanimous recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).

The law ministry issued the notification of removal of the senior judge of the Islamabad High Court here on Thursday.

Earlier the same day, the SJC declared Siddiqi guilty of misconduct as he in a speech at the Rawalpindi District Bar Association on July 21 had levelled scandalous allegations against the judiciary and the intelligence agencies.

He accused Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of manoeuvring and interfering in judicial affairs – especially during Panama Case in which ex-PM Nawaz Sharif was disqualified.

The notification of his de-seating said the president has removed the judge as a result of proceedings against him under Article 209(5) and the SJC recommendation under Article 209(6) read with Article 48(1) of the constitution.

“This council is unanimously of the opinion” that in the matter of his July speech Justice Siddiqui “had displayed conduct unbecoming of a judge of a High Court”.

He was therefore “guilty of misconduct” and “liable to be removed from his office under Article 209(6) of the Constitution”, said the decision of five-member council – headed by Chiarman Mian Saqib Nisar.

The other members of the council are Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Ahmed M Sheikh of Sindh High Court (SHC) and Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali – the chief justice of Lahore High Court.

The 39-page verdict, penned by Justice Khosa, mentioned the controversial speech of Siddiqui and included the shocking revelations made in the evidence. Sources confirmed that the copy of verdict had been sent to Siddiqui.

However, sources told The Nation that Siddiqui being aggrieved and dissatisfied with the decision is considering invoking the jurisdiction of Article 184(3) for relief.

In reaction to his removal, the former judge has decided to disclose all the evidence, which he had submitted before SJC regarding his allegations, before the general public to explain the ‘actual’ reason for removal.

“My conscience is satisfied and I will soon disclose the facts before the public and will expose the evidences which were submitted in written before the SJC during trial to explain as to what were the factual causes behind my removal,” Siddiqui said in a message.

He further stated that the decision of SJC was not astonishing for him. “My address to bar was made the basis for my removal when they got nothing against me even in an alleged corruption reference based upon malafide,” he added. He lamented that no commission was made to probe the veracity of his claims.

After this development, the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) is also considering calling a meeting of the members to decide its course of action.

PBC Vice-Chairman Kamran Murtaza told The Nation that there should be accountability of everyone but a probe should have been conducted over allegations levelled by Siddiqui.

“It is true the SJC regulates the conduct of judges but the allegations levelled by the judge regarding influence of intelligence agencies on judiciary should also be brought to its logical conclusion through an investigation,” he said.

This is the first instance of the SJC recommending the removal of a high court judge after 1970. During this period, most of the judges against whom SJC was moved had preferred tendering resignation to avoid inquiry by the council.

Case history

On August 1, the SJC had issued a show cause to Justice Siddiqui on alleged misconduct. The same day military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), had also contacted SJC’s Chairman CJP Saqib Nisar to initiate action over Justice Shaukat Siddiqui’s remarks regarding interference of intelligence agency in judicial matters.

An order from the council chairman said that after thoroughly discussing the matter and taking relevant material into consideration, the SJC has issued a show cause notice to the judge calling upon him to explain his conduct within a period of 14-days.

Earlier on July 22 the CJP had taken serious notice of Justice Siddiqui’s remarks. The next day he directed IHC Chief Justice Muhammad Anwar Kasi to furnish his comments upon the veracity of the allegations levelled against him by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.

“The allegations levelled in the speech [by Justice Siddiqui] cast aspersions and malign the superior judiciary of the country and berate its independence. It also implicates honourable IHC chief justice and some other national institutions,” read the press statement issued at the time from top court’s office.

 

Siddiqui’s controversial speech

The former IHC judge in his address to the Rawalpindi Bar Association had claimed that the judicial proceedings were being manipulated.

He alleged that an agency [ISI] approached the IHC Chief Justice Kasi to ensure that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz remain in jail till the general elections.

“I know how messages have been conveyed to the Supreme Court. I know where the record of proceedings of the accountability court was sent every day and why the statutory provisions allowing the IHC to exercise administrative control of the accountability court was ceased. This was to stop the IHC judges to monitor the trial proceedings,” he said.

Former Vice Chairman and senior member of PBC Ahsan Bhoon totally rejected the notion of ISI meddling in judiciary’s affairs.

“The entire speech [of Siddiqui] is a well-planned move for the benefit of certain individuals and in my view Shaukat Siddiqui, who was already facing a reference in the SJC, had tried to use political forces as a shield, he said.

Bhoon said there was no credibility and authenticity in Siddiqui’s claims. The judge not only attempted to take benefit for himself through that speech but also voiced opinion of a political party, he said.

PBC ex-chairman added the institution of judiciary would be strengthened after the expeditious SJC decision on his violation of code of conduct.

 

 

Shaukat Siddiqui removed as IHC judge

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN