–Justice Siddiqui urges military’s top command to rein in intelligence officials
ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Wednesday alleged that the country’s intelligence agencies were interfering in the matters of the judiciary, media and the executive, and warned about the damages it could cause.
The senior high court judge said this during the proceedings of a case concerning the disappearance of two brothers by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Justice Siddiqui currently faces a trial in the Supreme Judicial Council in a reference of misconduct moved on the complaint of a retired government employee who alleged that the judge had his official residence refurbished beyond entitlement.
The high court judge has been in the spotlight for his criticism of the armed forces for their role as the ‘mediator’ in the agreement between the government and the Faizabad protesters.
“Who is the army to adopt a mediator’s role?” the judge had questioned at the time. “Where does the law assign this role to a major general?” he further asked.
Justice Siddiqui, in the order sheet issued after the hearing on Wednesday, said that the Islamabad police had failed to protect the citizens from enforced disappearances. He also criticised the spy agencies, including ISI, for allegedly going beyond their constitutional limitations.
He said that “police is in league with the mighty agencies, who have disrupted the civic fiber of the country by establishing [a] state over the State of Pakistan”, and warned that this would lead to a “disastrous situation”.
“I must observe that persons [at] the helm of affairs of all the institutions need to protect [their] hard-earned independence and take remedial steps to stop the invasion by [the] personnel of [a] particular institution and intelligence agencies,” the court order noted.
Justice Siddiqui, accusing the spy agencies of interfering in the affairs of the judiciary wrote, “Everyone knows […] how proceedings are manipulated, from where strings are pulled and when power [is] wielded and maneuver[ed] to achieve the desired results.”
“It is [a] matter of great concern that even benches are constituted and cases are marked to different benches on the direction of such elements,” he added.
It is pertinent to mention that the senior judge was not included in a division bench formed to hear the appeals filed by former premier Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Captain (r) Safdar against their conviction by an accountability court in the Avenfield properties reference. The bench formed comprised two junior judges and will hear the appeals after the upcoming general elections.
The order sheet read, “It is time to save the institution of the judiciary from all kind of influences, otherwise we may not be able to answer [to] Allah Almighty.”
“To remain like a silent spectator is against the oath made by every judge, provided by the Constitution. In case of our failure, the Pakistani nation and history will not remember the judges with good names [sic],” it added.
The IHC judge directed court officials to send a copy of the order to the defence and interior secretaries as well as to the chief of army staff (COAS) and the ISI director general (DG).
Earlier, Islamabad police had produced Rabnawaz, a man who was allegedly picked up by unknown persons, before Justice Siddiqui. Rabnawaz told the court that he went to Vehari on his own but his brother told the court that he was perjuring himself and had been in fact abducted by the intelligence agencies and was physically and mentally tortured. His brother further said that Rabnawaz was threatened in order to prevent him from speaking against the spy agencies.
In the order sheet, Justice Siddiqui noted that “it is expected from the top echelon of [the] army that by appreciating the delicacy, sensitivity and alarming [nature of the] situation, some remedial steps to stop their agencies from interfering into the affairs of other departments and to refrain [them] from assuming the role not assigned by [the] law shall be taken.”
Urging the importance of taking those measures, the judge said, “These practices shall ruffle the people of Pakistan, which by no stretch of imagination is good for the prestigious institution of the Pakistan Army as well as the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”