ISLAMABAD: Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Tuesday stressed the need for strengthening the judiciary and judges instead of demolishing the same by encouraging angry expressions.
“The strength of the judge is always his judgement and the clarity of thought while sticking to the already set high principles,” the Supreme Court judge observed, emphasising that the judges should be polite even in their judgement writings.
The observation came during the hearing of an appeal filed by former outspoken judge of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui against the opinion of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) as well as the Oct 11, 2018, notification under which he was removed for his speech on July 21 that year at the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi.
Senior counsel Hamid Khan, representing the former judge, read out his client’s reply in response to the July 31, 2018, show cause notice by the SJC in which he openly named incumbent Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General and then DG counter intelligence Lt Gen Faiz Hameed for his visits to the former judge.
The real point still to be answered is why the intelligence people reached out and had access to the former judge, Justice Bandial wondered, suggesting the former judge should have asked them that they were sitting at a wrong place. The number of visits showed that the former judge had some dealings with the DG-C, he regretted.
Supreme Court resumes hearing of former judge Shaukat Siddiqui’s case
This prompted Justice Siddiqui to stand up and explain that this was not fair since he was not in acquaintance with any army officer. He said he lived in Islamabad where people got disappeared with impunity by “Namaloom Afrad” and he had asked his two sons not to practise law in the city.
At this, Justice Bandial observed that Justice Siddiqui was an honest man.
Explaining that he was speaking from his heart with respect, Justice Bandial said that “we want to get out of the present morass and need the support of the bar for strengthening the judiciary”. He also blamed the bar for their failure since whatever was achieved during the 2009 epic lawyers’ movement had been lost and “we are back to square one”.
But Justice Siddiqui came out in public with derogatory remarks against the judiciary when he should have shown restraint, Justice Bandial regretted. The judges have nothing but high moral ground as they enjoy the right to write judgements, he said, acknowledging that the judiciary always look towards the bar but the latter had their own preferences to react.
Justice Bandial observed that the former judge should have reported about his meetings with the then chief justice of Pakistan as well as the IHC chief justice.
Reading out the reply of Justice Siddiqui, the counsel said that during his second visit on July 19, 2018, Gen Hameed told the former judge that after his July 18, 2018 verdict he was summoned by the army chief who showed great annoyance and displeasure.
Justice Siddiqui told the DG-C that he needed nothing except that all organs of the state and the respective departments of the executive should remain within the limits prescribed by the Constitution and the law of the land.
In his statement, Justice Siddiqui claimed that when he asked how they managed constitution of a bench to hear appeal against conviction of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the DG-C told him that then IHC chief justice Anwar Khan Kasi was approached in Quetta through a common friend, where he was asked to constitute a division bench which was not headed by Justice Siddiqui. Justice Kasi, according to the reply, said he “will constitute a bench to which we are comfortable”.
Gen Hameed had further said that they wanted an assurance that bail plea of accused Nawaz Sharif was not taken up before the 2018 general election, the counsel said, adding that they wanted that later the matter be brought before the bench headed by Justice Siddiqui for attaching some credence.
“To this, I categorically replied that if from the material, I feel convinced for enhancement of the sentence, I will not hesitate to issue notice for enhancement to the conviction, but if the judgement would not be sustainable in the eyes of law, I will not spoil my hereafter to protect worldly affairs of any,” Hamid Khan quoted Justice Siddiqui as saying in his reply.
In his first meeting on June 29, 2018, Gen Hameed said he desired that some guidance be provided to protect the prestige of ISI by modification of the order for clearance of Aabpara Road and the green belt. In private, the DG-C also inquired about the procedure of hearing appeals in the high court on judgement, conviction of Nawaz Sharif by the NAB court, etc.
“For me it was quite strange that how DG-C was so certain about the conviction of accused, but I showed restraint about showing any kind of expression,” the reply stated. “However, I responded that when you are fully aware of legal procedure and certain about outcome of trial then why are you asking me? On this, he straight away asked me what would be my view in case the appeals came before me? I replied that cases are to be decided as per oath administered to every judge and purely on merit instead of any other consideration and in case matter comes before me I shall decide the same purely on merit as I am answerable to Allah.”
During the meeting, according to the reply, the DG-C also said that they would take care of pending references against him and also indicated that the CJ-IHC may resign due to health issues and in that eventuality Justice Siddiqui may become CJ in the month of September 2018 instead of November. “Again, it was shocking for me to know about the claim of this official that he was in a position to influence the proceedings of SJC,” the former judge said in his reply.
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2021