SC grills dismissed IHC judge Shaukat Siddiqui over his speech against ISI

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan came down hard on dismissed Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui over his speech accusing Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its Director General (DG) Faiz Hameed of meddling not only into politics but judiciary as well as country’s media and that the agency extensively worked for two years to oust an elected prime minister of Pakistan.

In an apparent indication of being on the same page with Pakistan’s powerful military, the Supreme Court made it clear that it would defend its ‘institutions’.

The top court’s observations about protecting the dignity of the country’s institutions came when Siddiqui’s lawyer resumed his arguments.

A Supreme Court’s bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial is hearing the petition filed by Siddiqui wherein he challenged SJC’s decision of removing him from Islamabad High Court after his tirade against ISI during his address at a local bar association.

Earlier a day ago, the military establishment-backed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led Federal Government had submitted a one-page reply wherein it denied the allegations levelled by Siddiqui regarding involvement of ISI in managing judiciary and politics to oust Nawaz Sharif.

The federal government termed the allegations as baseless and misleading. “However, 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 Hon’able Court, that allegations made are baseless, misleading and, therefore, denied,” stated a one-page statement submitted by the federal government.

During the court of hearing on Friday, Justice Bandial observed that Siddiqui expressed his hatred in his speech and opted to complain in public. The head of the bench made it clear that this court would defend the institutions, further observing, “if we will not protect the institutions then who will?”

Justice Bandial in his remarks further added that there was an internal procedure for complaint in case of an attack on the independence of the judiciary. Justice Bandial further said that making everything public had become a new approach.

On this, Advocate Hamid Khan, counsel representing Siddiqui, argued that inquiry should have been conducted to unearth the truth.  He further informed the bench that Siddiqui more than thrice sought appointments to meet the chief justice of Pakistan but the applications seeking appointment were not approved.

Justice Bandial further observed that independence of the judiciary has many aspects, adding, “if a judge makes mistake, the trial against entire judiciary begins.”

He further observed that Siddiqui silently kept meeting persons of the intelligence agency. He also questioned if Siddiqui could have written to the chief justice on the formation of the bench then why not on this matter.

Advocate Khan argued that his client showed courage by speaking openly in public. On this, Justice Bandial responded that revealing to the public was a surrender and not courage.

Former judge of Pakistan’s Islamabad High Court Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who was removed by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) – the apex body consists of judges that hold judges accountable, submitted a document in Supreme Court accusing ISI of meddling not only into politics but judiciary as well as country’s media and that the agency extensively worked for two years to oust an elected prime minister of Pakistan.

The document submitted by Siddiqui also included the reply to a show-cause notice issued to him by SJC. Siddiqui in his reply to show-cause notice made startling revelations about how the intelligence agency was meddling in politics to oust former Premier Nawaz Sharif.

Not only the meddling in politics, but Siddiqui’s reply also narrated how the ISI was managing the country’s judiciary for procuring orders against Sharif in different cases and manoeuvring media.

Siddiqui in his submissions mentioned a sequence of episodes how incumbent Director-General ISI Faiz Hameed visited the former’s house and tried to manipulate him. Siddiqui in his submissions stated that the accountability court sentenced Sharif in Panama Cases and it was apparent that the order would be assailed before the high court under appeal.

“Till that time, I was heading the DB-I, (divisional bench I). Even the roster issued on 02.10.2017, stipulated that the roster of sitting is proposed w.e.f. 09.10.2017 till further orders. However on 17.10.2017, a fresh roster was issued and the DB-I was changed and I was not included as a member of any DB,” stated the document.

“It was quite strange that I was not made part of any DB afterwards. So from the start of Panama Cases, it was ensured that I must not be part of any DB so that the Writ Petitions arising out of the Misc. Applications before the AC may not come before me, even inadvertently.”

Siddiqui said that on 29 May and 19 June of 2018 DG ISI Major General Faiz Hameed came to his residence due to reason that court orders in a case regarding Islamabad Transport Owners Vs Capital Development Authority, wherein he had directed ISI to remove encroachment in front of its office located in the hub of Islamabad.

“It is important to mention here that Brig. Irfan Ramay also came to my residence on 27.06.2018 and desired that I may review my order of clearance of road and green belt falling in front of ISI HQs.” 

“On my refusal, he showed annoyance. Incidentally, some guests who come to congratulate me on the performance of Umrah, were also present when this episode took place.”

“Major General Faiz Hameed (DG ISI) in his first visit, dated 29.06.18 firstly apologized on the conduct of his subordinate, Brig. Ramay, and desired that some guidance may be provided to protect the prestige of ISI by modification of an order of clearance of road and green belt.” 

“I explained to him that being a Judge, I am not supposed to go beyond my order passed on judicial side and his establishment has to respect and implement the same unless set-aside or modified by the honourable Supreme Court,” Siddiqui stated in his submissions.

“He (DG ISI) agreed and assured me that his establishment would proceed in accordance with the law. At this juncture, he requested other persons to leave the room as he intended to talk in private.”

“On leaving of above, he (DG ISI) inquired about the procedure of hearing appeals in the High Court on judgment and conviction by the NAB court of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif etc.”

Siddiqui in a statement stated, “For me, it was quite strange that how DG-C ISI (Faiz Hameed) is so certain about the conviction of accused but I showed my restraint about showing any kind of expression.” 

“However, I responded that when you are fully aware of legal procedure and certain about the outcome of the trial then why are you asking from me? On this, he straight away asked me what would be my view in case the appeals came before me? I replied that cases are to be decided as per oath administered to every judge and purely on merits instead of any other consideration and in case matter comes before me I shall decide the same purely on merits as I am answerable to Allah.”

Siddiqui said that on this the comments of the then DG-C and now DG ISI Major General Faiz Hameed were shocking and highly deplorable.

Siddiqui said that DG ISI responded in Urdu ‘Is Tarah Toh Hamari Do Saal Ki Mehnat Zaya Hojaye Gi (Our efforts of two years would be wasted)’. With these remarks of DG ISI, it could be asserted that the military establishment was managing to permanently oust former premier Sharif from the politics and systems.

“I (Siddiqui) replied that you people are not supposed to indulge in such type of activities as same does not fall within the domain of ISI, but he had other views. He sought permission to leave with the remarks that they would take care of pending references against me and also indicated that Chief Justice, Islamabad High Court may resign due to health issues and in that eventuality, I may become CJ in Sep 2018 instead of Nov 2018. Again, it was shocking for me to know about the claim of this office that he was in a position to influence the proceedings of honourable Supreme Judicial Council.”

 “On the second visit dated 19.07.2018 Major General Faiz Hameed told that on the passing of the order dated 18.07.18 by me, he was summoned by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff and his job is at stake because COAS showed great annoyance and displeasure on his inability to handle a Judge of High Court. As per him, COAS directed him to hold a meeting with me to know ‘what Judge sb wants?’ In 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 very upright and loyal Pakistani even in the ranks of Army except for a few individuals, therefore, good working relationship 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 the constitution of a bench to hear an appeal against the conviction of Nawaz Sharif, he told me that Justice Anwar Khan Kasi, CJ, IHC was approached at Quetta through a common friend, where he was asked to constitute a Division Bench not headed by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui. Justice Kasi in reply informed that he ‘will constitute a bench to which we are comfortable.”

“He, Major General Faiz Hameed, further informed that they wanted assurance that bail plea of accused Nawaz Sharif is not heard/taken up before the General Election dated 25.07.18. Thereafter, he stated that they wanted that the matter is 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 to issue notice for enhancement to the conviction, but if the judgment would not be sustainable in the eyes of law, I will not spoil my hereafter to protect 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 General Faiz Hameed came on the official vehicle of ICT Administration.” 

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

Siddiqui in his submissions before the Supreme Court went on to contend that during the sponsored Faizabad sit-in different efforts were made to influence him for the passing of certain orders.

“I seriously objected to the role or arbitrator assumed by the officials of Intelligence agencies as evidenced by General Faiz putting his signature on the demands of the protestors. Unfortunately, this unpopular stance raising the Constitutional and legal questions ended in the issuance of show-cause notices to me, proceedings of which are still pending before the Honourable Supreme Judicial Council.”

“Another official of ISI Brig. Faisal Merwat tried to manipulate the proceedings initiated by M/s. Labaik (Pvt.) Ltd, known as BOL Media Group by describing the BOL as a project of ISI.”

“This official and Brig. Irfan Ramay also tried to influence me for favourable results for Dr Amir Liaqat Hussain but could not succeed to persuade me to come under their pressure.”

“Further in the Axact case, to earn acquittal of Shoaib Sheikh an amount of Rs. 50,00,000/- (five million) was paid as a bribe to Mr Abdul Qadir Memon, Judge of Trial Court, by Brig Tahir Wafai the then sector commander (ISI) Islamabad. Allegedly, an amount of Rs. 50 million was obtained to procure the acquittal of accused persons, but as per confession of Judge Trial Court he was paid the above-mentioned amount only.”

“Aside from the above, my statements are also corroborated by numerous admissions of different top position holders in the Judiciary, Army, Bureaucracy and Politicians.”

“A special cell to monitor the day-to-day proceedings and overall case management/strategy was constituted.

Such cell was established in a safe-house situated in the F-8 sector. Daily proceedings conducted by court used to be examined and future course used to be discussed with NAB team and witnesses.”

“It is also a matter of record that officials from ISI used to visit the presiding officer of the NAB court-I in his chamber and a video clip in this regard was also telecast on electronic media and made viral on social media.” “This is a fact that administrative and supervisory control over the accountability court under the statute is of respective High Courts and in the matter under the reference of Islamabad High Court, but due to certain restrictions this administrative control doesn’t appear to be in existence which created an adverse impression about the functioning and independence of judiciary and influence of Intelligence Agencies.” 

“In any event, appropriate inquiries should be made against the persons who have been involved in manipulating the judiciary as evidenced above. And they should be held to account under the law.”

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