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January 29, 2021

‘Don’t sling mud at state institutions without proof


January 29, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Thursday issued notices to the federation and Attorney General for Pakistan in a petition filed by Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who was sacked as a judge of Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Siddiqui has challenged the Supreme Judicial Council’s recommendation that he be removed [from the post] for the judicial misconduct while addressing the Rawalpindi District Bar Association (RDBA) around two years back.

A five-member bench of the apex court — headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Ijazul Ahsen, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah — heard the petition.

After accepting the plea of Hamid Khan, the counsel for Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, the court issued notices to the federation as well as Attorney General for Pakistan. The court sought the attorney general’s assistance on the law points raised by the petitioner claiming that he had been deprived of a fair trial. The court objected to the use of derogatory words in the petitions filed by Sindh and Islamabad bars.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed that the petitions had used a derogatory language besides leveling allegations against the state institutions. Justice Bandial told Mr. Salahuddin, the counsel for Islamabad Bar, that he had accused in his petition the intelligence agencies of interfering in the court matters besides stating that a set perception was being created among the public about the judiciary.

“But you did not provide a single evidence in this regard,” Justice Bandial told Mr. Salahuddin. The counsel submitted that if an allegation had been levelled, then it must also be probed. “We don’t want to indulge in this debate but allegations without proof should not be levelled against institutions. People come and go but institutions remain,” Justice Bandial remarked adding that the institution of judiciary will flourish and play its role for dispensation of justice.

“Don’t start attributing to public perception but you should say that it was the stance of the petitioner that he was affected by the decision of the Supreme Judicial Council,” Justice Bandial told the counsel.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen asked whether the Gallop had conducted a survey regarding the interference of intelligence agencies in the court affairs. “You have not provided any evidence that substantiates that it is a public perception,” Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked Mr. Salahuddin.

Meanwhile, both Rashid A Rizvi, counsel for Sindh High Court Bar, and Mr. Salahuddin, gave their consent for expunging the objectionable paragraphs in their respective petitions and agreed to file an amended petition. The court then directed its office to club the amended petitions with the main petition.

Hamid Khan requested that in order to go one step in the matter, the court should issue notices to the respondents. He cited a court order in March 2018 holding the petition as maintainable.

Justice Bandial, however, observed that the order in question was to the extent of the Registrar Office’s objections adding that to determine whether the petition was maintainable or not, the bar of Article 211 came in way as well.

Hamid Khan contended that his client had been denied a fair trial and that he was condemned unheard. He said if the constitution was violated, the Supreme Court could examine the matter.

When Hamid Khan referred to another judgment of the apex court, Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked him why he didn’t say he was alleging mala fide in the law. Hamid Khan replied that notices be issued first to the respondents and he will address all the questions during the course of his arguments.

He again requested that as his client was going to retire in June that’s why he pleaded that the instant matter should be concluded before his retirement and the hearing conducted on a daily basis. Justice Bandial replied that they too wanted to do so but could not, as all the benches were facing a heavy load of cases and adjourned the matter until next month.