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Ex-judge again urges SC to suspend removal notification

Ex-judge again urges SC to suspend removal notification

ISLAMABAD: Former judge of the Islamabad High Court Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Tuesday again requested the Supreme Court to adjudicate on his plea against the Oct 11, 2018 notification under which he was removed.

In a six-page application, the former judge also requested the apex court to suspend the notification.

The once outspoken judge was removed from the high judicial office on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) under Article 209 of the Constitution for delivering a controversial speech on July 21, 2018 at the District Bar Association Rawalpindi, thus being guilty of misconduct.

In the speech, the former judge had made remarks against the involvement of certain officers of an executive organ of the state, specifically the Inter-Services Intelligence, in the affairs of the judiciary and their alleged efforts to manipulate formation of the high court’s benches.

Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui says he has suffered irreparable loss due to inordinate delay in adjudication of his plea

His counsel Hamid Khan had on Dec 9, 2020 also requested the Supreme Court to adjudicate on his plea before June 30 next — the date when he is supposed to retire had he been in office.

On Nov 30 also, Justice Siddiqui had written a two-page letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, seeking necessary directives for the court office to fix his appeal for early hearing.

Moved under Order 33 Rule 6 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1998, the fresh application of the former judge pleaded before the Supreme Court that it was imperative in the interest of justice on the grounds that it may cause serious prejudice that the Oct 11, 2018 notification be suspended.

The application contended that the petitioner had a good prima facie case and the balance of inconvenience leans in his favour.

The application also recalled that on Jan 28, 2021, the Supreme Court, while hearing his case, had stated that the case would be fixed in February 2021, but this was not done as a result of which he filed a similar application and also wrote a second letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed with a request for early fixing of the case.

The application highlighted that since his removal as judge of the high court, he had not been employed for gain and like millions of other citizens, he also enjoyed fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Constitution included but limited to the rights to life, due process, dignity and access to justice.

It is a universally recognised principle that justice delayed is justice denied, the application said, adding that the petitioner had suffered immense irreparable loss due to this inordinate delay.

In the past, the Supreme Court rose to the occasion and in four months decided constitution petition No. 21 of 2007 which was moved by former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

Mere grounds of the proceedings and the bar contained in Article 211, which prohibits any proceeding before the SJC or its report to the president or the removal of the judge from being called into question by any court, should not be any reason to delay the pending case. This bar is not absolute, the application said.

The application also reminded a number of earlier instances when his case was adjourned by the bench to fix the matter as early as possible but could not be fixed.

In his original petition, the former judge had requested the apex court to make appropriate directives or structure or regulate the discretion available to the chief justices of all superior courts to constitute or dissolve benches and assign cases or issue case rosters in particular to hold and declare that the directive of the chief justice can only be exercised after meaningful consultation with the top four senior most judges of the court and only as per certain settled and defined criteria.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2021

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