Justice Siddiqui gets temporary relief as SJC adjourns reference hearing indefinitely

10:02 AM | 1 Aug, 2018
Justice Siddiqui gets temporary relief as SJC adjourns reference hearing indefinitely
ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) adjourned the hearing of a reference against Justice Shaukat Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court indefinitely on Tuesday.

During the hearing of the reference on Tuesday, the counsel put off the hearing until the formation of a new regime at the request of Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan.

The development came a day after, the council headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar expressed that the issue would be winded up in three days even if it required sitting until midnight.

The five-judge SJC had started hearing the reference against Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Mondy regarding the renovation of his official residence allegedly beyond entitlement; a complaint against the firebrand judge was filed by a retired employee of the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

During the hearing, the council retired for 10 minutes to allow the Attorney General, arrange the documents which the prosecution wanted to exhibit as evidence but the official explained that the documents to be exhibited along with the affidavit of Ali Anwar Gopang, a senior CDA official and the originator of the reference, were scattered and very difficult to identify and mark specifically.

The unexpected postponement was due to the reason that the entire case against Justice Siddiqui was prepared by former AG Maulvi Anwarul Haq who is currently away on leave and will return to Pakistan in the first week of August.

AG Khan also pleaded that the evidence against the judge could be recorded by the SJC, but it would be strange if he had to leave halfway since the new government would appoint its own AG.

On the occasion, senior counsel Hamid Khan, who is representing Justice Siddiqui, informed the council that his client would also be going abroad and would be on leave from Aug 9 to 22.

Following this, the chief justice closed day’s hearing with an observation that the next date would be fixed keeping in view the dates on which Maulvi Haq returned and the period during which Justice Siddiqui would be away from the country.

Justice Siddiqui to move Supreme Court

Siddiqui's counsel, Hamid Khan informed the court that his client intended to challenge Monday’s SJC order before the Supreme Court, asserting that the order did not reflect that the examination-in-chief of Ali Anwar Gopang was done on the basis of his seven-page affidavit and his 2017 complaint.

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“We are even ready to argue the petition if it is fixed for Wednesday,” offered Hamid Khan.

The council, however, offered the counsel to rectify and even dictated the order in accordance with the wishes of Hamid Khan.

ISI After Justice Siddiqui

At the outset of Tuesday’s proceedings, Advocate Tariq Asad came to the rostrum and recited verses from the Holy Quran before the commencement of the hearing.

Afterward, the counsel informed the council that he also had moved a very comprehensive reference against the chief justice that contained substantive material with sufficient grounds which should be heard by the council.

He also requested the chief justice to recuse himself from the hearing.

Upon this, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, one of the members of the council, told the lawyer that his reference was not being heard by the council and would be taken up when the times came, Tariq Asad claimed that the reference against Justice Siddiqui was being heard allegedly at the behest of the intelligence agencies.

The head of the SJC was not sitting in the council as an independent judge, alleged Asad.

“Thank you for your information,” Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, also a member of the council, observed before directing the counsel to take his seat.

During the proceedings, the chief justice clarified that the order of the council was not judicial in nature because the proceedings of the council were quasi-judicial proceedings (partly judicial character by possession of the right to hold hearings on and conduct investigations into disputed claims).