ISLAMABAD: A judge of the Islamabad High Court claimed on Monday that he had sufficient evidence that the complainants who accused him of passing remarks against the army were “proxies” and the real complainant was someone else.

Requesting the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to discharge the show-cause notice issued to him for passing ‘unwarranted remarks’ against the army, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC said in his reply that his remarks “do not constitute misconduct”.

The SJC — a constitutional forum that examines the conduct of superior court judges and then recommends their removal from the top post — issued the show-cause notice to Justice Siddiqui on complaints filed by MNA Jamshed Dasti and advocate Kalsoom Khaliq alleging that the judge had, during the hearing of petitions against the Faizabad sit-in, passed unwarranted remarks against the army.

In his reply, Justice Siddiqui said both the complainants “are only proxies”. “In fact the complainants have been brought at the behest of someone else. I have un-rebutted evidence to this effect, which I shall produce if required.”

It may be mentioned that Justice Siddiqui, while hearing the petitions against the sit-in, had criticised the military-backed agreement between the protesting clerics and the federal government that led to resignation of federal law and justice minister Zahid Hamid.

Justice Siddiqui accused of passing remarks against army during Faizabad sit-in hearing

The SJC notice issued to Justice Siddiqui had said: “Such comments had prima facie travelled beyond the scope of the list under consideration and had seemingly tendency to undermine the respect otherwise due to such constitutional institution.”

Justice Siddiqui’s reply, however, clarified that the army was not a constitutional institution, rather the “armed forces are creatures of the constitution and, therefore, cannot be deemed to go beyond the reach of the constitutional courts. As per Article 243 of the Constitution, the federal government has control and command of the armed forces and not other way around”.

Citing Article 243, the judge argued that the military was duty bound to defend Pakistan against external aggression and subject to law acted in aid of civil power when called upon to do so, while the courts had an obligation that the federal government performed its function in accordance with the Constitution.

It may be mentioned that Justice Siddiqui is also facing a reference regarding renovation of his official residence over and above of his entitlement. The judge also denied the allegations and requested the SJC for open trial.

The judge’s constitutional petition seeking the open trial of this reference is pending with the Supreme Court.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2018