–Supreme Judicial Council had recommended IHC senior judge’s removal ‘for displaying conduct unbecoming of a high court judge’
–Justice Siddiqui had accused judiciary and spy agencies of being responsible for ‘deplorable state of affairs’ in the country
ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi on Thursday removed Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, a vocal critic of the country’s spy agencies, from his post as a senior judge of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), a notification issued by the Law Ministry said.
The decision came after the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) recommended Justice Siddiqui’s removal to the president for making a controversial speech against ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] and the judiciary before the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi on July 21, 2018.
“Mr Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, Judge, Islamabad High Court (IHC), Islamabad had displayed conduct unbecoming of a Judge of a High Court and was, thus, guilty of misconduct and he is, therefore, liable to be removed from his officer under Article 209(6) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973,” the recommendation stated.
The 39-page recommendation of the SJC was penned by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and a copy of it was also sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan.
‘ISI RESPONSIBLE FOR COUNTRY’S DEPLORABLE AFFAIRS’:
On July 21, Justice Siddiqui had made a speech in which he had held the higher judiciary and ISI responsible for the country’s ‘deplorable’ state of affairs.
On the same day, soon after Justice Siddiqui’s statement, the army had released a press release on the matter.
“An honourable judge of Islamabad High Court of Pakistan has levelled serious allegations against state institutions including honourable judiciary and the premier state intelligence agency. In order to safeguard the sanctity and credibility of the state institutions, Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan has been requested to initiate the appropriate process to ascertain the veracity of the allegations and take actions accordingly,” the statement had said.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar while commenting on the whole fiasco had expressed his distaste as well.
“I read about the remarks of a judge in Islamabad and was deeply saddened,” he had said on the day after the controversial speech was made.
The apex court then took a suo motu notice of the matter following which Justice Siddiqui asked the chief justice to constitute a judicial commission to probe his allegations and offered to resign if he’s proven wrong.
Earlier in October, the bench had reserved its opinion on whether to proceed further against the judge or send the recommendation to the president of Pakistan for his removal.
Siddiqui’s remarks had come just days before the SJC was to hold an open trial of a corruption reference against him, making it a first such case in the history of the country.
He was facing a reference on misconduct moved on the complaint by a retired employee of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for alleged refurbishment of official residence beyond entitlement.
On Feb 22, SJC had issued a show cause notice to Justice Siddiqui on another reference against him for making unnecessary and unwarranted comments about some “important constitutional institution saying such comments prima facie had the tendency of undermining the respect otherwise such constitutional institution enjoys”.
FAIZABAD SIT-IN CONTROVERSY:
Siddiqui also made it to the headlines last year when he criticised the armed forces for their role as the “mediator” in the agreement that led to an end of the sit-in by religious groups at Islamabad’s Faizabad Interchange in November.
“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?”
But the first time Siddiqui gained prominence was when he sentenced the officers of CDA for failing to demolish illegal Afghan settlements in the federal capital and for not enforcing judicial orders.
‘ANTI-BLASPHEMY LAW CHAMP’:
Siddiqui had also taken a notice of blasphemous content on the social media, which was later removed on court orders. Officials from Facebook also visited the country and assured such controversial content would not be uploaded on the social networking site in future.
He was also part of the two-member bench that excluded anti-terrorism clauses from the case against Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of the late Punjab governor Salman Taseer, but upheld his conviction under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).