ISLAMABAD: Former judge of the Islamabad High Court, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Monday accused former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar of persecuting him, alleging the head of his institution was after his neck and in search of an opportunity to throw him out of the judiciary.

“Had I issued contempt notices to two officers of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) namely the then director general Maj Gen Faiz Hameed and Brig Irfan Ramay for paying a visit to my house in June 2018, another reference would have been filed against me,” Mr Siddiqui, who had faced three different references, said. He requested the five-judge Supreme Court bench to understand the circumstances he was faced with then.

“Would you hang me for this,” the former judge asked in an angry tone and went on to add, “Let me be hanged.”

Headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, the bench had taken up an appeal by former outspoken judge Siddiqui against the opinion of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and the Oct 11, 2018 notification under which he was removed as the superior court judge for his July 21, 2018 speech at the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi.

Justice Bandial asks Shaukat Siddiqui not to malign judiciary

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

“I have to my credit seven years of my life as a judge, another 23 years as a lawyer and now three years as a litigant and understand the entire judicial system vividly,” said Mr Siddiqui whose enrolment as a lawyer before the apex court has been recently reinstated by the Pakistan Bar Council.

Justice Bandial reminded Mr Siddiqui’s counsel Hamid Khan that his client was a party in the case, regretting that such kind of an outburst was below any standard. Even the worst party in a case never behaved like this, Justice Bandial observed, asking Mr Khan not to encourage his client to come to take the stage to malign and degrade the institution of the judiciary when his counsel was arguing.

“There is no room for sentiments and I don’t like this attitude,” Justice Bandial observed. “We as judges have to decide cases at hand on the basis of law and the constitution only.”

Mr Khan pleaded that his client was under immense pressure because he was being hounded and witch-hunted by the ISI for a long time.

To a query by the bench, the counsel said a show cause notice was issued to the former judge by the SJC only because of the observations he had made in a case relating to the Nov 2017 four-week long sit-in staged by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan. As a judge of the high court, he had directed the law enforcing agencies to clear Faizabad junction by shifting the TLP dharna to some other place like the Parade Ground, the counsel explained.

“My client was under cloud for some time because he was being perceived as an independent judge,” the counsel argued.

Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan said the court wanted to distinguish whether the order sheets in that case contained the observations made by the former judge or it was mere observations.

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah wondered whether the observations made during the hearing of the dharna case were also mentioned in the complaint before the SJC by former MNA Jamshed Dasti.

Justice Bandial observed that the court wanted to see the complaint to understand whether it reflected independence of the judge or his prejudice and again emphasised the decorum and dignity of the court.

The counsel was asked to furnish complete documents, including the complaint before the SJC and the orders sheets in the dharna case, by Tuesday (today).

The counsel argued that the show cause had also alleged that no independent confirmation was available about the meeting of the former judge with the ISI officers to discuss the judicial matters. Had an independent inquiry been conducted, Mr Siddiqui could have asked the SJC to summon those officers for examination, the lawyer said.

At this Justice Sardar Tariq Masood wondered why the former judge met the ISI officers at his residence.

The counsel argued that even the worst accused in a case was never denied the opportunity of due process, which was denied to his client.

Justice Bandial recalled that the former judge never denied the allegations of his meeting with the ISI officers in response to the Feb 22, 2018 SJC show cause notice, like the contents of the speech before the Rawalpindi bar were also never denied.

Hamid Khan argued that judges made speeches at public forums and cited the recent speech by incumbent CJP Gulzar Ahmed at a Lahore function, adding that speeches made by the judges did not fell within the ambit of misconduct but a duty was cast on the SJC to hold an inquiry into the allegations in case of improper contents of statements made by the judges.

The counsel recalled that proceedings in the Jamshed Dasti complaint were later dropped by the SJC.

Justice Ahsan observed that the counsel was trying to establish that the judges did go to public forums and made speeches for which they were never made answerable before the SJC.

During the hearing Justice Bandial also recalled how former CJP Jawwad S. Khawaja had once asked him whether swan rode or swam in the pond. Justice Bandial answered that swan sailed smoothly like a boat but Justice Khawaja explained that though the surface seemed calm underneath the water, swan was peddling continuously.

“Likewise the conduct of the judge is to demonstrate supreme calmness and serenity,” Justice Bandial explained, adding that the judges were supposed to control themselves even if there was a fire erupting inside them.

“We are also made subject to criticism but we always keep quiet with a smile since it is the order or the judgement of the judge that matters,” Justice Bandial observed.

The court postponed further proceedings till Tuesday (today).

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2021

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