ISLAMABAD: Former judge of the Islamabad High Court Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Wednesday again moved an application before the Supreme Court, requesting it to adjudicate his plea against the Oct 11, 2018 notification that removed him as a judge, before his fast approaching retirement date.
In a three-page fresh application, the former judge also requested the Supreme Court to fix a hearing of the case preferably on May 4.
Shaukat Siddiqui was removed from the high judicial office on 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 at the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi, on July 21, 2018.
In the speech, the former judge had made remarks against involvement of certain officials of the executive organ of the state, specifically the Inter-Services Intelligence, in the affairs of the judiciary and to allegedly manipulate the formation of the benches of the high court.
Shaukat Siddiqui has challenged his removal on SJC’s recommendations
Earlier, on April 6, his counsel Hamid Khan had requested the court to suspend the Oct 11 notification before June 30 — when he would have retired had he been in the office.
On Nov 30 also, the former judge had written a two-page letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed to seek directives for the court office for early hearing of his case.
Moved under Order 33, Rule 6 of the Supreme Court Rules 1998, his fresh application says that it is imperative in the interest of justice that the Oct 11 notification should be suspended on the grounds that it might cause serious prejudice.
The application contends that the petitioner has a good prima facie case and the balance of inconvenience leans in his favour.
It recalls that on Jan 28, 2021, the Supreme Court, while hearing his case, had orally observed that a hearing of the case would be fixed in February, but the hearing was not fixed. As a result, he has filed a similar application and also written a second letter to Chief Justice Ahmed with a request for early fixing of the case.
The application highlights that since his removal as judge of the high court, the petitioner has not been employed for gain and like millions of other citizens he also enjoys fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution, including due process, dignity and access to justice.
It is a universally recognised principle that justice delayed is justice denied, the application highlights, adding that the petitioner has suffered immense irreparable loss due to this inordinate delay.
In the past the Supreme Court rose to the occasion and in four months decided the petition moved by former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, the application recalls.
Mere grounds of the proceedings and report of the SJC and the bar contained in Article 211 of the Constitution which says that any proceeding before the SJC or its report to the president or the removal of a judge will not be called in question by any court, should not be the reason to delay the pending case, the application says. This bar is not absolute, it adds.
The application also recalls a number of earlier instances when the former judge’s case was adjourned by the bench to fix the matter as early possible, but it could not be fixed.
In his original petition, the former judge also requested the apex court to make appropriate directives or structure or regulate the discretion available to the chief justice of every superior court to constitute or dissolve benches and assign cases or issue case rosters in particular to hold and declare that the directives of the chief justice can only be exercised after meaningful consultation with the top four senior most judges of the court and only as per certain settled and defined criteria.
Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2021