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February 24, 2018

Justice Siddiqui issued notice for remarks against constitutional institutions

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February 24, 2018

ISLAMABAD: 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 his 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.

The SJC 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.

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