ISLAMABAD: Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, a former judge of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), has filed a fresh application with the Supreme Court requesting it to resume the hearing of his appeal on Feb 10. The last hearing of the petition was on Dec 7.

“The petitioner’s several legal, fundamental and constitutional rights are involved in the case,” said the single-page application by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who was retired as a high court judge in June last year.

‘It is therefore most respectively prayed that the constitutional petition may kindly be fixed for hearing on Feb 10,” the application said.

Similar applications for an early hearing of the case were moved by the petitioner in the past on a number of occasions.

The former IHC judge had submitted the appeal against an opinion of the Supreme Judicial Commission (SJC), as well as an Oct 11, 2018, notification under which he was removed as a superior court judge for his speech at the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi, in July 2018.

Justice Siddiqui had made remarks against the alleged involvement of certain officers of the executive organ of the state, specifically the ISI, in the judiciary’s affairs in order to “manipulate the formation of benches of the high court”.

A five-judge bench, headed by now Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, had postponed further proceedings on Dec 7 after Hamid Khan, counsel for Shaukat Siddiqui, had accused the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), which removed the judge from office, of being under the premier intelligence agency’s influence.

But the assertion did not go down well with the bench and Justice Bandial expressed his displeasure by stating that he was “deeply grieved to hear such sweeping remarks”.

In the fresh application, Justice Siddiqui stated that the matter was of public importance since the petition had raised important questions like the judiciary’s independence, the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution.

In his original petition, the former judge had requested the apex court to determine or regulate the discretion available to the chief justices of all superior courts to constitute or dissolve benches and to assign cases or issue case rosters.

But the petitioner contended that the chief justice of a court can exercise discretion in these matters only after “meaningful consultations” with the four most senior judges of the court concerned and in accordance with certain “settled and defined criteria”.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2022

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