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July 30, 2018

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Justice Siddiqui protested removal from division benches

ISLAMABAD: Justice Shaukat Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court (IHC) had written a letter to the IHC chief justice this May complaining that he was being sidelined and not being made part of any Division Bench (DB) despite having seniority and superior expertise in criminal matters, sources told The News on Sunday.

Sources close to senior judge said that Justice Siddiqui felt that that he had been deliberately sidelined in the Islamabad High Court as he had not been made part of the Divisional Bench since third week of October 2017. “Incidentally, this was the time when cases related to Panama scam started to come to IHC ,” sources said. In his letter, sources said, the seniorjudge opined that he deserved to be part of DB being the senior most judge of the IHC and an expert in criminal cases. “It is unusual that a senior judge of chief justice is not part of the DB,” sources said.

However Justice Siddqui was told in response to his letter that since he was facing health issues so he is being relieved of heavy work. But Justice Siddqui insisted that he was not bothered by health issues and in routine he had been presiding the court more frequently than the Chief Justice of IHC, sources said.

After the letter the senior judge went to perform Umrah. After coming back from the sacred journey, Justice Siddiqui was made part of DB for only 10 days. Apart from those 10 days, senior judge was never made part of DB again.

Being senior most judge, Justice Siddiqui was supposed to be part of appellant bench hearing review petition of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryum Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Safdar. However once again he was ignored.

“It was again unusual. It is sort of disrespect that senior most judge is ignored especially when he is an expert in criminal cases like that of Sharif’s,” sources close to Justice Siddqui said. While contacted, Supreme Court lawyer and senior member of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) Hafiz Arafat said traditionally a senior judge is always made part of Division Bench although there is no law in this regard.

“It is highly unusual that a senior judge is not made part of the DB. For last six years of Justice Siddiqui’s career it never happen until October 2017 that he is excluded from Division Benches,” Arafat said.

He said while making DBs the expertise of a judge is also considered beside his seniority. “It is strange that Justice Siddqui was not included in all DBs dealing with NAB court cases of Sharif family despite the fact he is the only judge of IHC who has expertise in criminal cases.”

Sources said Justice Siddiqui was ready to face any severe punishment for his allegations of institutional interference in judicial affairs if he fails to prove allegations against him in a commission headed by a non-PCO judge.

They added that the senior judge, who wrote a letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan on Sunday or formation of a judicial commission to investigate his allegations of agencies meddling in judicial affairs, also wants similar punishments against retired and serving officers if his allegations are proven correct during the proceedings of the commission.

Sources said Justice Shaukat Siddiqui has irrefutable and undeniable evidences of institutional interference in the judiciary and he is confident he will prove it in the court of law if challenged. The source claim Justice Siddiqui’s life would be in danger if he reveals the nature of evidence.

The IHC judge claimed he had stated facts about the prevailing situation without any fear. HE also claimed that he had irrefutable evidence When asked why Justice Siddiqui did not file a reference against judges in Supreme Judicial Council if he had irrefutable evidence , the sources close to him said he did not feel that it was appropriate to do so against his colleagues.

To another question as to why contempt of court proceedings were not initiated against the officers mentioned in his speech, the sources said the whole issue of agencies interference was mentioned in the written judgment of Justice Siddiqui in missing person case. “After the written judgement no new case of interference was noted so question of contempt proceeding does not arise.

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