Govt dismisses deposed IHC judge’s accusations against ISI

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Former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s allegations over the supposed manipulations of judicial proceedings by the Inter-Services Intelligence have been dismissed by the federal government.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah is hearing the former judge’s plea against his removal.

Therein, Hamid Khan, the counsel for Siddiqui, read out the replies submitted with the Supreme Judicial Council. The replies said that the former judge had been removed from the IHC division bench-1 before October 2017.

“The timing makes it obvious that this was a calculated move to exclude me from [the] regular [division bench] DB-I since appeals regarding the politically sensitive Panama Papers case were to be heard during this time. This too after I was heading DB-I as Senior Puisne Judge prior to this time”

“On three occasions, I met the Hon’ble Chief Justice to know the reasons for such an inexplicable turn of events, but the reply I received was astonishing.”

“On two occasions, the Hon’ble CJ mentioned the pendency of the references against me before the SJC as a cause of exclusion and once [on] an order from higher-ups.”

“I replied that you people are not supposed to indulge in such type of activities as the same does not fall within the domain of the ISI, but he had other views.”

“He sought permission to leave with the remarks that they would take care of [the] pending references against me and also indicated that Chief Justice IHC may resign due to health issues and in that eventuality, I may become CJ in the month of Sep, 2018 instead of Nov, 2018.”

“Again, it was shocking for me to know about the claim of this official that he was in a position to influence the proceedings of the honorable SJC.

“On the second visit, dated 19.07.2018, Maj Gen Faiz Hameed told [me] that on passing of order dated 18.07.18 by me, he was summoned by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff [COAS] and that his job is at stake because the COAS showed great annoyance and displeasure on his inability to handle a judge of high court.

“As per him, the COAS directed him to hold a meeting with me to know ‘what Judge sb wants? In [my] reply, I stated that I need nothing except that all organs of the state and the respective departments of the executive may remain within the limits prescribed by the Constitution and the law of the land.”

“On this, he stated, Sir, it is better to forgive bitterness as you are considered as a very upright and loyal Pakistani even in the ranks of army except a few individuals, therefore, good working relations may be in the interest of Pakistan.”

“I inquired from him that if this reputation of mine exists then why have they exercised their influence to ensure that DB-1 headed by me must dissolve the moment cases related to Panama start to land in IHC?”

“He very frankly conceded that some members of the team dealing with the cases were of the view that Justice Siddiqui is pro-defence and there is apprehension that he may grant relief to accused persons.”

“When I asked how they manage constitution of a bench to hear appeal against conviction of Nawaz Sharif, he told me that Justice Anwar Khan Kasi, CJ IHC was approached at Quetta through a mutual friend, where he was asked to constitute a division bench not headed by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui.

“Justice Kasi in reply informed me that he will constitute a bench to which we are comfortable.”

“He [Major Gen Hameed] further informed that they wanted assurance that [the] bail plea of accused Nawaz Sharif is not heard/taken up before the General Election dated 25.07.18.”

Thereafter, he stated, “They wanted the matter to be brought before the DB headed by me for attaching some credence to the proceedings.”

“To this, I categorically replied that if, from the material brought on record, I feel convinced for enhancement of the sentence, I will not hesitate in issuing [a] notice for enhancement of the conviction, but if the judgment would not be sustainable in the sight of law, I will not spoil my hereafter to protect [the] worldly affairs of any.”

“From his demeanour, I could tell that this reply of mine did not please him and he left my residence along-with his companion. On both occasions, Major Hameed came on an official vehicle of the ICT administration.”

“The statements made by DG ISI and the unfolding of events on the ground clearly substantiate the disclosure of facts by me to the Rawalpindi bar as a gospel truth,” the statement concluded.

In reply to the above, Additional Attorney General Sohail Mahmood submitted a one-page statement in the Supreme Court of Pakistan wherein it stated, “as specific allegations about certain officers of the state were made in the petition and read out in court, on instructions it is placed before this court that the allegations made are baseless, misleading and therefore denied”.

Earlier, the SC on Tuesday adjourned the hearing on former IHC Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s appeal to date in office indefinitely.

During the course of proceedings, Advocate Khan said according to the Constitution, the SJC conducted its own inquiry. Justice Mazhar Alam asked did the SJC itself recorded statements in the inquiry.

Hamid Khan replied all records and evidence had to be reviewed by the SJC. He said his client was removed from office by issuing a show-cause notice.

He said the SJC had the power to make inquiries against a judge but could not dismiss a judge. He said Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui had replied to the show-cause notice.

Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui denied any links with any officer in the army, with his lawyer telling the SC that a top intelligence officer had allegedly himself visited the judge at the latter’s residence.

During the hearing, senior counsel Hamid Khan, who is pleading Siddiqui’s case, argued that his client had been “deliberately targetted” by some forces.

“While the SJC has the authority to conduct an inquiry against a judge, it cannot dismiss him,” the lawyer argued.

Khan recalled that Justice Siddiqui had submitted a reply, the same year, to the show-cause notice issued to him.

Siddiqui, in reply to the notice, said that “General Faiz Hameed [current DG ISI] came to his residence”, the lawyer told the court, adding: “Gen Faiz asked [Siddiqui] to withdraw the order for the removal of encroachments from [outside] the ISI headquarters and green belts.”

At this, Justice Bandial remarked that it was “surprising” that the ISI chief had made such a demand from Siddiqui.

“You were dismayed at something else and you insulted your own institution and the chief justice,” the judge said while addressing Siddiqui, who was present in the court.

“You are accepting yourself that you had meetings with the DG,” Justice Bandial told him. “You met him twice; you had relations with him.”

This prompted Justice Siddiqui to stand up in his seat and reply, “I have no relations with anyone in the army,” adding that he was residing in Islamabad along with his family “despite all kinds of threats”.

Justice Bandial assured the former judge that members of the court knew that he was an “honest person”.

Siddiqui then said he had delivered the speech that led to his ultimate sacking “to reduce the pressure” on judges.

“Unfortunately, I have been under pressure since December 2015,” the former judge said, alleging that former chief justices Mian Saqib Nisar and Asif Saeed Khosa “had always wanted to show me the door”.

“We don’t want to hear your speech,” Justice Bandial replied, saying Siddiqui had “started naming names”.

Justice Bandial told Siddiqui that he was “angry at the ISI” but had resorted to disrespecting the judiciary.

“You should have worked for the protection of your institution. Think of the institutions that work for the protection of the judiciary,” he said.

Siddiqui’s counsel Khan said: “The bar too works for the protection of the judiciary.”

Justice Bandial replied that although the bar was always present for the assistance of judges, “with due respect, the bar has its own policy according to which it functions”.

“It was due to the bar’s criticism that Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman resigned. The bar often gets emotional,” the judge added.