Rawalpindi district bar distances itself from Justice Siddiqui's allegations, Supreme Court wants answers
The District Bar Association of Rawalpindi on Monday distanced itself from Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui's speech in which he accused a security agency of meddling in judicial affairs.
Separately, the Office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan sought answers from the IHC chief justice on the allegations raised by Justice Siddiqui, and directed him to collect all evidence available for review.
While addressing the Rawalpindi bar on Saturday, the IHC judge had claimed that personnel of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were manipulating judicial proceedings.
Amidst chants of "shame!" from members of the bar and other attendees, he had claimed that the spy agency had approached IHC Chief Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi and said: "'We do not want to let Nawaz Sharif and his daughter come out [of the prison] until elections; do not include Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on the bench [hearing the Sharifs' appeals]'."
Justice Siddiqui had offered no evidence to support the claims he made.
Also read: No pressure on the judiciary, says CJP
Addressing a joint press conference on Monday, the bar's president, Khurram Masood Kayani, and secretary general, Raja Amir, said Justice Siddiqui's speech had nothing to do with the bar.
They said the senior IHC judge had been invited to the bar to speak to young lawyers about legal ethics, but instead he "started mocking institutions in a speech".
The bar condemns and "disagrees 100 per cent" with his speech against state institutions, the office-bearers said.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had on Sunday taken "serious notice of a speech delivered by Justice Siddiqui [...] alleging interference of intelligence agencies of the country in judicial matters". The top judge also called for complete record of the speech from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority.
Also on Sunday, the military's media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations, had requested the Supreme Court to "initiate appropriate process to ascertain the veracity of the allegations" made by Justice Siddiqui.
In a letter that emerged hours later, the IHC judge had requested the CJP to constitute a commission to probe the allegations levelled by him.
Justice Siddiqui requested the top judge to appoint any serving or retired judge of the Supreme Court "who has not taken oath under PCO [Provisional Constitutional Order]" for the single-member commission.
He said he is "ready to face the consequences" if the independent commission does not find any reality in his claims, "but at the same time I have a right to enquire that if my presented facts are proved correct, what would be the fate of those persons, be they serving army personnel, who are involved in manipulating the judicial system".
Supreme Court seeks answers
The Chief Justice of Pakistan's office also issued a statement on Justice Siddiqui's remarks late Monday, observing that "The allegations levelled in the speech cast aspersions and malign the superior judiciary of the country and berate its independence. They also implicate the chief justice, Islamabad High Court and some other national institutions."
"The chief justice [...] has asked the honourable chief justice of the Islamabad High Court to comment upon the veracity of the allegations levelled against him," the statement continued.
"He has also been asked to obtain material/ evidence from Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui available with him (if any) to substantiate the allegations levelled in the speech. Such material/evidence (if any) and the comments of the [IHC] Chief Justice will be transmitted to the Office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan for consideration and appropriate action, if necessary."
Two separate references against Justice Siddiqui are currently pending before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
The first reference pertains to a corruption case filed against him by an employee of the Capital Development Authority.
In the second reference, the SJC is reviewing the judge's critical comments regarding the role of the army in last year's Faizabad sit-in led by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan.