Hearing the IHC former Judge Shaukat Siddiqui’s appeal against removal, the Supreme Court of Pakistan wondered why Mr Siddiqui accommodated the ISI officers at his residence, three times.
Heading a five-judge SC bench, Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked the appellant’s counsel to explain why this happened to which Advocate Hamid replied that his client had no other option as the officials themselves came to his house. Mr Bandial sought assistance from Hamid Khan on the difference in freedom of speech for the judges and the common people; and commented that the judges lived isolated from the world.
This is important to know that Justice Siddiqui had delivered a speech on July 21, 2018 at the Rawalpindi District Bar Association in which he had remarked about the involvement of the various institutions of the state especially the ISI in judicial matters including the formation of the high court benches. Mr Siddiqui had also claimed that the judiciary was involved in undermining the democratic norms in the country. Taking notice of the said speech, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) had terminated Justice Siddiqui under Article 209 of the Constitution.
Judges have to live their lives keeping in mind the people, justice and the Constitution right from their inception to retirement, Justice Bandial commented
In Wednesday hearing, Siddiqui’s counsel read out the complete speech before the honorable bench. Mr Bandial told that there were certain restrictions and limitations for the judges to follow and the said tendency and intensity of speaking the heart out was not permissible for them. He further added that the judges had to live their lives keeping in mind the people, justice and the Constitution right from their inception to retirement.
Referring to Justice Mazhar Alam Khan, Mr Bandial said that even after the difference of opinion in Justice Faez Isa review petition, they (Bandial and Mazhar) were sitting together and fulfilling their professional responsibilities. He regretted that Justice Siddiqui opted an unconstitutional way of going into the public and criticizing the judiciary.
Hamid Khan contended that the reference against the former IHC chief justice Anwar Kasi was closed after he denied to have any information about meetings between Justice Siddiqui and ISI officials while the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) forwarded his client’s name to the president for removal from the judicial office. He asked the bench to remark on:
- If an apex court judge could be removed without conducting inquiry?
- Do judges have freedom of speech like other people?
- Can a judge be sacked on the basis of an unclear and undefined term “conduct unbecoming”?
Justice Siddiqui went for an unconstitutional way by going into the public and criticizing the judiciary, Justice Bandial remarked
On this, Justice Bandial replied that these were quite general questions and said that Judges had to follow their code of conduct. He further added that the basic concern was the application of Article 209 of the Constitution. Mr Bandial explained that Justice Siddiqui’s petition under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution could not be framed in the same category. He also advised the counsel to focus that Article 211 did not allow anybody to challenge the proceedings of the SJC.
Justice Bandial concluded that the speech of Mr Siddiqui created a negative impression of the judiciary and now the appellant needed the same judiciary to restore his position.