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SC Withholds Decision On Shaukat Siddiqui’s Removal From IHC Judgeship

SC Withholds Decision On Shaukat Siddiqui's Removal From IHC Judgeship

The Supreme Court (SC) has yet to deliver its verdict following a hearing on Tuesday regarding the petition filed by former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who contested his removal from office in 2018. The court, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justices Aminuddin Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Irfan Saadat, reserved its decision. The bench instructed all involved parties to submit their responses within three weeks.

In October 2018, President Arif Alvi removed Justice Siddiqui from the Islamabad High Court based on the Supreme Judicial Council’s (SJC) recommendation. The removal was made under Article 209(5), following the SJC’s unanimous opinion that Siddiqui, in a speech before the District Bar Association, displayed behavior unbecoming of a high court judge. The speech contained serious allegations against the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), accusing them of manipulating judicial proceedings.

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During the recent hearing, Chief Justice Isa noted that all respondents acknowledged the absence of a proper inquiry in the case. He expressed concern about deciding the case without knowing the veracity of the allegations and emphasized the need to set an example. Siddiqui’s lawyer argued for declaring the SJC’s removal unconstitutional, proposing the formation of a commission by the SC to investigate the allegations.

The court deliberated on the independence of the judiciary and the SJC’s adherence to legal requirements. Justice Isa raised questions about the council’s actions and suggested the possibility of conducting an inquiry itself. Siddiqui’s counsel called for annulling the entire inquiry and sending the matter back to the SJC, while the ex-ISI chief’s counsel maintained that Siddiqui’s speech alone proved misconduct.

Chief Justice Isa highlighted the absence of a proper inquiry and expressed concern about Siddiqui’s removal without following legal procedures. The Attorney General referenced the Afia Zia Shehrbano case, arguing that Siddiqui’s removal violated established legal requirements and requested the court to review the case. He emphasized the impact on Siddiqui’s status as a retired judge if the council’s action were invalidated.