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Monday, July 15, 2024

Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui challenges CJP over his termination

News Analysis |

Former Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Friday challenged his termination as a high court judge in the Supreme Court. Mr. Siddiqui has alleged the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) for being biased and prejudiced against him. He further said in his constitutional petition that he was terminated without due process and that his ouster was done without [the SJC] fulfilling legal prerequisites.

Mr. Siddiqui also raised a number of questions on the legality of the actions taken against him, saying he wanted to highlight additional grounds in support of his petition at the time of its hearing at the apex court. He also alleged that the SJC order “suffered from various illegalities and mala fide” and prayed to the apex court to set aside the notification and restore his position as IHC judge.

Mr. Siddiqi issued a judgement and said that all citizens be easily identifiable by their faith and that applicants for public offices declare their beliefs before being considered eligible.

Mr. Siddiqui was removed by the president of Pakistan Mr. Arif Alvi on the eve of 11th October. President removed the judge on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council. According to details, “the decision was taken under Article 209(5) on the SJC’s recommendation under Article 209(6) read with Article 48(1) of the Constitution”, read a notification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice.

Read more: Justice Shaukat Siddiqui questions Chief Justice’s conduct in Larkana

“The council is unanimously of the opinion that in the matter of making his speech before the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi on [July 21] Mr. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui 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 office under Article 209(6) of the Constitution,” the communication read.

Justice Siddiqi was facing a case of alleged misconduct filed against him in the wake of his controversial speech targeting the country’s top spy agency.

Justice Siddiqi Bashed at Spy Agencies

A few months ago, Mr. Siddiqui lambasted at spy agencies of the country and held them accountable for many upsetting political and security challenges in Pakistan. Hearing the case of missing persons, the high court judge appealed to Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa for “barring his persons from intervention in the matters of other institutions,” adding that the army chief should take notice of the alarming situation.

Justice Siddiqi was facing a case of alleged misconduct filed against him in the wake of his controversial speech targeting the country’s top spy agency.

He claimed, “Judges’ lives are in danger as their telephones are being tapped by the officials of the security agencies”. Addressing a representative of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who appeared in the court, Mr. Siddiqui said: “Your personnel try to form a court bench of their own wish and the army chief should be aware of the misdeeds committed by them”.

Mr. Siddiqui warned the spy agencies not to cross their constitutional limits and perform their duties according to the constitution of the country. Justice Siddiqi’s hard-hitting criticism of ‘secret ‘agencies came at a critical juncture. Just a day before Mr. Siddiqui made these comments, the CEO of Dawn Hameed Haroon was jolted by BBC’s Stephen Sackur when he leveled some allegations against the security agencies of Pakistan but was unable to provide any evidence.

Read more: Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui lambasts ‘secret’ agencies, levels several ‘allegations’

Similarly, Mr. Siddiqi blamed the security agencies for meddling into politics and judicial affairs, but did not give any evidence to back his observations/claims. Later on, the District Bar Association of Rawalpindi on July 23rd categorially distanced itself from the IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s controversial speech. 

“In today’s era, the ISI is fully involved in manipulating judicial proceedings,” Justice Siddiqui alleged, in a speech delivered before the Rawalpindi District Bar Association. “Their personnel get benches formed at their will.” President of the District Bar Association of Rawalpindi, Khurram Masood Kayani, and secretary general, Raja Amir, said Justice Siddiqui’s speech had nothing to do with the bar.

Mr. Siddiqui warned the spy agencies not to cross their constitutional limits and perform their duties according to the constitution of the country.

Furthermore, they clarified that the senior IHC judge had been invited to the bar to speak to young lawyers about legal ethics, but instead he “started mocking institutions in a speech”. The bar condemns and “disagrees 100 percent” with his speech against state institutions, the office-bearers said.

Read more: SJC rejects Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s application

Justice Siddiqi; Some hard-hitting comments to avoid references against him?

Mr. Siddiqui has remained in news for various reasons. Last year, Justice Siddiqi got upset over some blasphemous content on Facebook. He even directed the authorities to shut-down the social media site, if it does not work according to the laws of Pakistan. He further suggested to making the blasphemy law ‘tougher’. This judgment generated a huge debate on social media.

Almost a year ago, Mr. Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui expressed displeasure over army’s role in the deal brokered between the protesters staging a sit-in at the Faizabad interchange and federal government. ‘In what capacity, the Army Chief assumed the role of guarantor in the agreement,’ inquired Justice Siddiqui.

Khurram Masood Kayani, and secretary general, Raja Amir, said Justice Siddiqui’s speech had nothing to do with the bar.

Recently, Mr. Siddiqi issued a judgement and said that all citizens be easily identifiable by their faith and that applicants for public offices declare their beliefs before being considered eligible.

Read more: Why has Mr. Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui been removed as IHC Judge?

Mr. Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who penned the order, referred to Article 5 of the Constitution, saying it demands that citizens remain “faithful” to the state and “abide by the rules of law and Constitution.” However, he then interpreted Article 5 as the Constitution making it “mandatory” for every citizen, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, to declare their “true faith”, failing which they could be guilty of “betraying the State” and “exploiting the Constitution”.

Political commentators believe that Mr. Siddiqui made all efforts to avoid suspension till the end. However, the SJC was not influenced by any of his actions. Mr. Siddiqui’s failure to satisfy the SJC has led to his immediate suspension from the service. There are some analysts who argue that Mr. Siddiqui was well-aware of his suspension. He created a scenario in which he would be able to save his face, saying his suspension was politically motivated like Nawaz Sharif who did the same after being convicted in Panama Papers case.