ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Thurs­day denied and declared as misleading and baseless the assertions made by former judge of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui about his meetings with Director Gene­ral of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Faiz Hameed.

“As specific allegations about certain officers of the State were made in the petition and read out in the court, on instructions it is placed before this Hon’ble Court, that the allegations made are baseless, misleading and therefore denied,” said Additional Attorney General Sohail Mehmood before a five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial.

The bench had taken up an appeal by the former judge against the opinion of the Supreme Judicial Cou­ncil (SJC) and the Oct 11, 2018 notification under which he was removed as the IHC judge for his July 21, 2018 speech at the District Bar Association in Rawalpindi.

In his speech, the former judge had criticised the alleged involvement of certain officers of the executive organ of the State, specifically the ISI, in the affairs of the judiciary to manipulate formation of the benches of the high court.

Removed for conduct unbecoming of his position, Justice Siddiqui has mentioned his meetings with ISI chief in his appeal

At the outset of the hearing on Thursday, AAG Mehmood appea­red at the rostrum to read out a short statement on behalf of the government, stating: “During hearing of this petition on June 8, 2021, the counsel for the petitioner had read a number of paragraphs from the document attached with petition which contained allegations about certain officers of the State.

“As this Hon’ble Court is hearing submissions on the question of maintainability in view of the bar under Article 211 of the Constitution, the federal government has not filed any reply. “However as specific allegations about certain officers of the State were made in the petition and read out in the court, on instructions it is placed before this Hon’ble Court, that the allegations made are baseless, misleading and therefore denied,” the statement said.

Article 211 places bar of jurisdiction under which the proceedings of the SJC, its report to the president and removal of a judge under clause (6) of Article 209 cannot be called in question in any court.

Former judge Siddiqui was also present at the Courtroom No. 3 when the statement on behalf of the government was read out.

Soon after AAG read out the statement and took his seat, senior counsel Hamid Khan on behalf of the former judge told the bench that the additional statement of the former judge, from which he had read out the controversial excerpts at the last hearing on Tuesday and which he wanted to place on record as evidence, had been returned by the registrar office of the Supreme Court with objections that scandalous remarks had been used in the statement.

However, Justice Bandial observed that the statement was already on record and they were thinking how to connect the same to the question of maintainability of the appeal.

Justice Bandial said that the former judge was callous and, instead of realising about his position as a judge, had done away with the standards set by the code of conduct for the judges though he was supposed to protect the institution of the judiciary. Instead, the former judge started entertaining officers of the intelligence agencies.

By citing the history of former chief justice Mohammad Munir in his public denunciation and maligning of the judiciary, the former judge even blamed and brought bad name to many incumbent hardworking and honest judges, Justice Bandial said and wondered about the violation of the code of conduct the former judge had committed by condemning the judiciary in public that too without any evidence.

The former judge should have reported about his meetings with the intelligence officials to the chief justice, Justice Bandial observed.

Hamid Khan retorted that the judicial history was in the public domain and everybody had the right to interpret the same in his own way and therefore one should not be punished for highlighting the same.

Mr Khan also recalled that the former judge had reported about his meetings to the then chief justice of Pakistan on July 22, 2018 and requested for a special inquiry in the matter.

“You (the former judge) must have reported it to the chief justice the very next day but you waited to write after your speech at the Rawalpindi bar,” Justice Bandial said.

“You are excluding SJC to make yourself accountable,” Justice Bandial observed and cited a couplet of renowned poet Mirza Ghalib: “Ki mere qatal ke baad us ne jafa se tauba, Haye us zood pashaimaan ka pashaimaan hona.” You did it after the event,” Justice Bandial said.

Hamid Khan argued that according to the basic principles set out by the law, once the decision was taken to proceed against the judge by SJC, there was no question of dispensing with the requirement of initially holding an inquiry.

The right to summon any witness to examine and to rebut their statements was denied to the judge by not holding any inquiry and issuing a show-cause notice right away, the counsel argued.

No legal remedy was available to the former judge during the SJC proceedings, except holding of an inquiry to protect his tenure, he said. But the SJC dispensed with the parameters set out for its function by not adhering to the requirements of holding the inquiry initially.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2021

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