Wednesday June 07, 2023

Tribute to a friend – the late Chief Justice Saeed-Uz-Zaman Siddiqui

January 13, 2017

I have had the honor of knowing the late retired Chief Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui since 1968 and enjoyed a close and cordial friendship with him and his family.

When he was elevated as a judge of the Sindh High Court, he entrusted all his pending cases to me and I completed all his legal assignments in court.

The late Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui was an upright and fearless advocate who represented his clients in court with utmost dedication and perseverance. He had a sharp intellect and legal acumen which was evident not only when he practised law but more so when he performed judicial functions in court and it was well-known that even before an advocate had spoken a few sentences, Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui could anticipate the legal argument being advanced.

Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui showed a great degree of independence and led by example when he refused to take oath under a PCO which was then being imposed by Gen. Pervez Musharraf and a large number of his companion judges followed his example and refused to take oath under the PCO. Later, he contested the presidential election as a candidate of the PML-N against Mr. Asif Ali Zardari but lost. He was picked for the job of governor by the earlier PML-N government and once again in 2016 but unfortunately his failing health and illness to which he succumbed prevented him from continuing in the office of governor except for a short while.

Along with me, his closest friends and colleagues at the Bar include former law minister and attorney general Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, former attorney general Aziz A. Munshi and retired Justice G.H. Malik. Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman’s friendship was staunch and enduring.

Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui will be remembered for very long as a brave and fearless advocate and a brave and independent judge of the superior courts. He was also instrumental in establishing and heading the Karachi Dispute Resolution Centre later changed to Pakistan Dispute Resolution Centre, which provides an alternate dispute resolution facility which Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui always propagated for the benefit of litigants.

A quality which is rather unique which Justice Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui possessed was the ability to dictate his judgments in open court immediately after the conclusion of arguments by the advocates. He has left behind his wife Ashraf, a doctor by profession, and one son Afnan, who completed his two years’ training period as an advocate with me and displays all the signs of a bright intellect and a pleasing personality of his late father.

(Based on an interview given to The News by Mr. Liaquat Merchant, grand-nephew of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, senior advocate and former deputy attorney general of Pakistan).