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July 31, 2018

SJC rejects Justice Siddiqui’s applications, objections

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July 31, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) Monday rejected the applications of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui seeking details of expenses incurred on the residences of superior court judges in the last seven years.

A five-member bench of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard a complaint against Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.

Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and chief justices of Sindh and Balochistan High Courts were the bench members. It is for the first time that the SJC proceedings are being conducted in an open court as per Justice Siddiqui’s request.

The SJC hears complaints of misconduct against superior court judges. According to SJC rules, an inquiry against a judge is to be held in-camera.

Justice Siddiqui, however, requested that the inquiry [against him] should be conducted in an open court. Eight allegations have been levelled against Justice Siddiqui in the complaint pending against him since 2015.

Hamid Khan, counsel for Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, told the bench that they wanted the record of expenses incurred by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on the official residences of superior court judges.

In the application, he contended that as per Presidential Order 1997, the expenditure related to renovation of residences of judges of superior judiciary will be borne by the state and even bills of utilities, including gas and electricity, will also be paid for by the state.

He further submitted that they had also filed an application seeking record of action if taken against the complainant, an ex-official of CDA, besides seeking record of his relatives appointed in the civic body.

The chief justice rejected the applications and asked the counsel to argue in response to the allegations leveled against his client. The chief justice said there was no need for calling the record adding that the name of a particular judge was not mentioned in the application.

Hamid Khan contended that since allegations had been leveled against his client for spending Rs80 million on the renovation of his official residence, he wanted the record of other superior court judges just to compare the volume of expenditures with his client’s.

The chief justice said the council will limit expenditures on renovations of official residences adding, “When the council starts hearing the reference, it may look into the pleas taken by the counsel.”

At this Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, Judge of Islamabad High Court rose to the rostrum and contended that he had asked for the relevant record in order to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses.

At this, the chef justice asked Hamid Khan that they had earlier held the proceedings in-camera with love and affection and observed that the counsel had promised that his client will show restraint and behave according to the court decorum and not speak.

At this, Hamid Khan asked Justice Siddiqui to sit down. Justice Siddiqui, however, contended that he could not defend his case properly without getting the relevant record.

He pleaded that an impression should be given that he was being treated equally in the eyes of the law. Attorney General Khalid Javed submitted that direct allegations had been leveled against Shaukat Siddiqui in the reference adding that the record being sought by the judge had no relevance with the reference.

Hamid Khan, however, contended that baseless allegations had been leveled against his client adding that renovating an official residence was no more a crime. The court, however, observed that if solid evidence was not produced in support of the allegations then the proceedings will be abandoned.

The chief justice observed that if a judge who delivered justice was not administered justice then it would be unfair. He assured the IHC judge that they were not biased saying they were not answerable here but will be answerable to the Almighty on the Day of Judgment.

“We don’t want to cause mental agony to those who are innocent,” the chief justice observed. The attorney general produced before the court first witness Ali Anwar Gopang, former director maintenance, CDA.

Hamid Khan, however, submitted that the instant proceedings should be adjourned until today (Tuesday) saying he will cross-examine the witness. The chief justice in a lighter tone asked the council to only ask the name of the witness. Hamid Khan, however, said he will examine the witness at which the court adjourned the hearing until today (Tuesday). Last week, the judge had moved two applications to the SJC seeking relevant record enabling him to prepare his defence against the accusations.

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