Judges also entitled to fair trial: SC
ISLAMABAD – Supreme Court on Tuesday noted that if Article 10A of the Constitution — which deals with the due process of law and fundamental right to a fair trial — could be applied to the case of a naib-qasid, why can’t it be applied to the case of a high court judge.
A five-member larger bench of the apex headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed heard the petition of Islamabad High Court judge Justice Shaukat Siddiqui, who had sought an open court trial instead of the in-camera hearing by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) in a case pertaining to alleged misconduct.
The Supreme Court bench turned down the judge’s request to grant a stay against the SJC proceedings. “This is not the kind of a case where a stay order is issued and then the whole case is buried,” the court said. On November 2, a two-member bench comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Qazi Faez Isa after hearing the matter referred it to Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar to fix it before a larger bench.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, a member of the five-judge bench, said, “This case is of public interest. There are 101 questions involved in this case. If Article 10-A of the Constitution could be applied to the case of a naib-qasid, then why it could not be applied to a high court judge. This is also the matter of independence of the judiciary.” Justice Azmat said this is not like other cases, which should be delayed or kept pending. “The case is of the first impression as this issue was not decided in the former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s case.” Hamid Khan appearing on behalf of Justice Siddiqui requested the court to issue stay order against the SJC proceedings, which also took up the case against Justice Siddiqui today (Tuesday).
Justice Gulzar Ahmed asked the counsel to argue the case saying instead of an interim relief, they would hear the petition in length. “Instead of pieces, we like to hear as a whole case.” The judge further asked why should they not hear all aspects of the case together. “We would hear it on merit and on the legal grounds.” Hamid Khan replied that he had the impression that only the stay application would be heard by the bench. Justice Gulzar inquired, “You are not arguing the case as advocate Makhdoom Ali Khan, who is also representing the IHC judge, is not present. The court then adjourned the hearing till Wednesday.