Former judge Shaukat Aziz terms CJP’s speech ray of hope

Published November 25, 2021
In this file photo, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui addresses the Rawalpindi District Bar Association. — DawnNewsTV
In this file photo, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui addresses the Rawalpindi District Bar Association. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, a former outspoken judge of the Islamabad High Court who was sacked three years ago after making an incendiary speech against officers of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), seems to have decided to test the recent assurances given by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed that the “judiciary never takes dictation”.

In a two-page application submitted before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the former judge stated the recent address by the CJP gave a ray of hope to him that “other factors won’t be relevant any more in the instant matter (appeal against his sacking), which is pending since Oct 2018”.

Shaukat Aziz was referring to a speech by the CJP at the Asma Jahangir Conference in Lahore on Saturday in which he had rubbished allegations that any state institution had ever pressed the judiciary into giving verdicts of its choosing.

In his application, the former judge said his appeal against dismissal had now turned into a “test case to gauge the judiciary’s independence”.

Seeks early hearing of his appeal

His appeal against the Supreme Judicial Council’s (SJC) opinion and an Oct 11, 2018, notification, under which he was removed, is still pending before the Supreme Court.

His affidavit, which was read out during the hearing by the five-judge Supreme Court bench by his counsel Hamid Khan, was returned by the court office. The affidavit spoke of the former judge’s meetings with senior intelligence officers.

The federal government repudiated the affidavit on June 10, describing as misleading and baseless his claims about meetings with Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, the former director general of ISI.

In his July 21, 2018, speech at Rawalpindi’s District Bar Association, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had even accused certain “institutions of the state”, especially the ISI, of manipulating the composition of benches in the Islamabad High Court.

The application submitted by the former judge on Wednesday is part of a series of petitions in which he has repeatedly sought an early hearing of his case.

The fresh application, filed under rule 6 of the Supreme Court Rules of 1980, recalled that on June 11 this year, a five-judge bench had observed that the matter be re-listed upon availability of the bench before the end of that month, but no hearing had taken place as yet.

Shaukat Siddiqui stated that numerous applications for an early hearing were filed on his behalf while he had also written a letter on Aug 5 to inform the court that a prolonged pendency of the matter was causing hardship to him and his family.

The Supreme Court office proposed three different dates — Oct 12, Nov 3 and Nov 25 — for the hearing, but for “some unknown reasons” on all three occasions, the hearing was cancelled just days before the proposed dates, the letter recalled.

“The issue at hand is of great public importance since significant questions in relation to the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution had been raised in the appeal,” the application said.

Since a number of legal, fundamental and constitutional rights were involved in the case, the application highlighted, the petitioner was seeking indulgence of the apex court for an early fixation, preferably before Dec 1, of the case in the interest of justice.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2021



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