Pak SC reserves
verdict on ex-judge
Shaukat Aziz’s plea
against removal

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ISLAMABAD: CJP Qazi Faez Isa (C), Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Justice Irfan Saadat.

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a petition filed by former Islamabad High Court senior puisne judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui against his removal.

A five-member bench — led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and including Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Justice Irfan Saadat — heard the plea. The proceedings were broadcast live on the apex court’s website.

Pak former SC judge Shaukat Siddiqui

Pak former SC judge Shaukat Siddiqui

In his petition, the former judge had challenged a decision of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) about his dismissal from service and an Oct 11, 2018 notification under which he was removed for a speech he had delivered at Rawalpindi Bar Association.

In his speech, Justice Siddiqui had accused the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of influencing the court proceedings and forming benches of choice.

A day earlier, former ISI director general retired Lt Gen Faiz Hameed submitted his response to Justice Siddiqui’s petition. In his response, he rejected the allegations of his involvement in the constitution of IHC benches to prolong the detention of former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz. The ex-spymaster claimed Justice Siddiqui had dragged him into the case for no reason.

At the previous hearing, notices had been issued to Gen Hameed, retired brigadier Irfan Ramay, former IHC chief justice Anwar Khan Kasi and former SC registrar Arbab Muhammad Arif.

CJP Qazi Faez Isa (C), Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Justice Irfan Saadat.
CJP Qazi Faez Isa (C), Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Justice Irfan Saadat.

Siddiqui had nominated seven individuals in his amended plea, however, the court remarked that three others — former chief of army staff Qamar Javed Bajwa, and two retired brigadiers Faisal Marwat and Tahir Wafai — had no direct connection with the case.

During the hearing today, CJP Isa said the court could not punish anyone without conducting an inquiry. “The SC has to draw a line on the difference between the Supreme Court and the Supreme Judicial Council,” he observed.

“If removing a judge is so easy, then this is a threat to the independence of the judiciary,” the top judge further noted, adding that the current matter was public and people had a right to know the truth.

The hearing

During the hearing, Khawaja Haris appeared as Gen Hameed’s and brigadier Ramay’s counsel while Wasim Sajjad was present as Justice Kasi’s lawyer. Hamid Khan appeared as the petitioner’s counsel.

At the outset, Haris came to the rostrum and informed the court who he was representing. Siddiqui’s lawyer urged the court to conduct a “fair inquiry” of the matter, arguing that under Article 209(6) of the Constitution, the SJC could not present a report to the country’s president without conducting an inquiry.

When asked about the allegation against his client, Hamid answered it pertained to a speech and urged the court to quash the decision against Siddiqui.

CJP Isa asked whether the ex-judge “admitted the allegations against him or rejected them”, to which the lawyer replied that his client had denied all allegations levelled against him. The top judge then noted that former SC registrar Arbab had submitted his response as well.

Hamid then asserted that the ex-registrar had said he had brought the matter to the notice of then-IHC chief justice Kasi, whose lawyer then came to the rostrum.

The chief justice then asked how the case should proceed, to which Hamid said: “The submitted responses have made my case clear. The SJC had not conducted any inquiry. If there had been an inquiry, witnesses would have appeared [and] cross-examination would have been allowed.”

The counsel then requested that the order to remove the former judge be declared unlawful. At this, the CJP observed that according to Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan, a factual inquiry had not been conducted, wondering how the five-member SC bench could then decide on the case.