The Supreme Court on Tuesday told the counsel for former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui that he must prove whatever the ex-judge had uttered in his impassioned speech before the Rawalpindi bar in 2018 did not amount to "misconduct".
Headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, a five-member larger bench of the SC had taken up an appeal by Siddiqui against the opinion of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and the October 11, 2018, notification under which he was removed as a superior court judge for his July 21, 2018, speech at the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi.
In his speech, the former judge had made remarks about the involvement of certain officers of the executive organ of the state, specifically the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in the affairs of the judiciary to allegedly manipulate the formation of benches of the high court.
As Siddiqui's lawyer Hamid Khan resumed his arguments today, Justice Bandial asked him to argue "on the basis of facts" instead of hurling serious allegations.
He recalled that the SJC had given Siddiqui two chances to prove the allegations levelled by him, while the Supreme Court had also allowed him the opportunity to do the same.
"You must prove that what Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said in his speech was not misconduct, then [your argument will have weight]," Justice Bandial told Khan.
He also asked the counsel to assist the court in determining what constituted "misconduct".
Taking the rostrum at the start of the hearing, Siddiqui expressed his confidence in the Supreme Court, saying: "I could not even think that any of the bench members is biased."
The former judge said he would not "blame" the judiciary even if his appeal was rejected. "I would be the last person to disrespect the judiciary," he reiterated.
The hearing of the case was adjourned to an unspecified date in January.