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SC orders former IHC judge’s petition to be fixed

Updated March 26, 2019

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Former justice Shaukat Siddiqui filed a petition against the notification of his removal from the high court. — DawnNewsTV/File
Former justice Shaukat Siddiqui filed a petition against the notification of his removal from the high court. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday removed an office objection and ordered for a petition filed by a former Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge against the notification of his removal to be fixed.

The appeal against the registrar office’s decision to return the petition was taken up by a five-judge SC bench headed by Justice Mushir Alam.

“Objections are overruled and office is directed to number the appeal and fix it before a bench for hearing,” Justice Alam dictated, after hearing former justice Shaukat Siddiqui’s senior counsel Hamid Khan.

Mr Siddiqui was removed from the high court at the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) under Article 209 of the Constitution for displaying conduct unbecoming of a judge by delivering a speech on July 21, 2018, at the District Bar Association of Rawalpindi.

Former justice Shaukat Siddiqui filed a petition against the notification of his removal from the high court

He challenged the Oct 11, 2018, notification removing him as an IHC judge, which was returned by the registrar’s office. He then appealed the registrar office’s decision on Oct 26, 2018. The appeal was taken up by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed in his chambers, who ordered for the matter to be fixed before a five-judge bench for a final decision.

During the hearing, Mr Siddiqui’s counsel cited in his favour the 2010 SC judgement in the case of former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

According to the application, in his appeal Mr Siddiqui contended that the matter at hand was of great public importance since questions related to the independence of the judiciary, rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution have been raised, requiring earlier adjudication of the matter by the court.

He contended that since a number of his legal and constitutional rights are involved in the matter, early fixation of the appeal should be considered in the interest of justice.

In his Oct 26, 2018 appeal, Mr Siddiqui pleaded that he be restored as a permanent high court judge after setting aside the Oct 11 notification removing him.

The 30-page appeal explains the context in which he was compelled to address the Rawalpindi District Bar Association, where he made remarks against the involvement of certain officers of the executive organ of the state, specifically Inter-Services Intelligence, in the affairs of the judiciary and to allegedly manipulate the formation of high court benches.

He argued in his appeal that his remarks were an honest attempt demanded by his conscience to counter challenges posed to the independence of the judiciary.

The petition contended that the SJC considered the letter of the high court chief justice to be gospel truth against him, despite the fact that it was not an affidavit and that the chief justice was exonerated from all the references he was facing two days later.

It argued that it was obligatory upon the SJC to inquire into allegations levelled by him in the interest of justice in a properly conducted trial to uphold the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2019