Pakistan’s Supreme Judicial Council to try sitting High Court judge Siddique in open court

Pakistan’s Supreme Judicial Council to try sitting High Court judge Siddique in open court
Islamabad, July 7 (The Express Tribune): The Pakistan Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), which hears complaints of misconduct against superior court judges, on Saturday made history by deciding to conduct trial of a sitting judge in open court for the first time.

Sources revealed to The Express Tribune that the chief justice of Pakistan-led SJC accepted Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s plea to conduct inquiry regarding his misconduct in open court. Justice Siddiqui had criticized the army.

Speculation states that SJC will start recording evidence in the case on July 30.

The complaint against the IHC judge has been pending since 2015 in which several charges were framed against him. The federal government hired Advocate Maulvi Anwarul Haq to represent him.

On February 21, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (SC), Mian Saqib Nisar, announced that all complaints against superior courts judges in the SJC will be decided by June. However, several complaints still remain undecided.

On May 10, the SJC suspended proceedings, after the IHC judge urged the apex court to hold an open trial. The top court’s larger bench, headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat, has already remanded the matter of holding in-camera trials for judges to the SJC for reconsideration.

Siddique Criticized Army

On February 24 , it was reported that the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has issued a show cause notice to Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for making “unwarranted comments about some important constitutional institutions” while passing an interim order in the Faizabad sit-in case.

“You knowing and purposely while adjudicating upon Writ Petition No. 3914 of 2017 made unnecessary and unwarranted comments about some important constitutional institutions,” says the notice issued under an order passed by the SJC.

The SJC has required submission of Justice Siddiqui’s response within 14 days, so that it is placed before the Council to proceed further on March 7, 2018, sources informed The News on Friday.

In an obvious reference to the remarks of Justice Siddiqui concerning the role of certain senior officers of the armed forces in negotiating an end to the Faizabad dharna by Tehreek-e-Labbaik in November 2017, it is observed in the show cause notice: “Such comments had prima facie travelled beyond the scope of lis under consideration and had seemingly tendency to undermine the respect otherwise due to such constitutional institutions.”

“Such comments also included observations which questioned the manner in which an administrative issue was resolved and also questioned participation of some officials in resolution of such issue which apparently fell outside the judicial domain. This act on your part amounts to misconduct as envisaged in provisions of Article II of the Code of Conduct prescribed by the Supreme Judicial Council,” says the notice.

The notice refers to information received through complaints filed by Kulsum Khaliq Advocate and Jamshed Ahmed Dasti, an independently elected member of the National Assembly, and notes: “After scrutinising the said information, the Council is of the opinion that you may have been guilty of misconduct…, and accordingly, the Council has decided to enquire into the matter and to issue the instant show cause notice.”

Recitals of the show cause notice refer to the duties of a judge of the high court and the code of conduct stipulated by the SJC, including the duty to keep “conduct in all things, official and private, free from impropriety”.

Justice Siddiqui is already facing a reference before the SJC for alleged misconduct dating back more than 18 months. Justice Siddiqui denies impropriety in the pending reference and has sought that it be heard in open court as an exception to the general rule requiring that proceedings against judges of the higher courts be held in-camera.

90% of Islamabad Police Are Involved In Crime 

In April this year, Justice Shoukat Aziz Siddiqui heard the case regarding increase in number of crimes in the federal capital. Inspector General of capital police and SSP Islamabad appeared in the hearing and remarked that 90% of the Islamabad policemen are involved in crime.

Siddiqui commented the policemen also harass female police officers. “Such police officers should have been shot dead if the law permits,” he added.

The judge went on to say that policemen are also involved in supplying liquor.

The Inspector General assured the court that he will make efforts to rid police force of such elements. “I will not get disheartened if I am sacked from duty from the service,” he continued.

The Supreme  Judicial Council is the only constitutional authority mandated by Article 209 of the Constitution of Pakistan to conduct inquiries into allegations of incapacity or misconduct against a judge of the Supreme Court or of a high court.

The Council consists of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the two next senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and the two most senior chief justices of high courts. The SJC is currently hearing references against two sitting judges of IHC, and a judge each of Lahore and Sindh high courts.

The Council had recently discharged a show cause notice issued to Justice Mazahir Ali Naqvi of the Lahore High Court.

(The featured image at the top shows Pakistan Army chief, Gen.Qamar Javed Bajwa with Islamabad High Court Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui)