‘Hang me if you want’: Ex-judge Shaukat Aziz draws SC’s ire over courtroom outburst
‘Hang me if you want’: Ex-judge Shaukat Aziz draws SC’s ire over courtroom outburst
A file photo of former judge of the Islamabad High Court, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui. — File

The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday expressed annoyance at Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, a former judge of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), for his outburst in response to the apex court's questioning as it resumed hearing on his petition challenging his removal from office.

The last hearing of the case was held on June 7, 2021.

Siddiqui was removed from the high judicial office on the recommendation of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) under Article 209 of the Constitution for “displaying a conduct unbecoming of a judge” after he delivered a controversial speech at the District Bar Association, Rawalpindi, on July 21, 2018.

The former judge had accused certain officers of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of interfering in the judiciary’s affairs. He had also levelled allegations against the judiciary for undermining democratic norms in the country.

A five-member bench of the top court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, while resuming the hearing of his appeal after six months today, asked Siddiqui why he had not issued a contempt of court notice to an army general who, according to his claim, had visited him at his residence.

"Are these facts recognised by you that the general met you? If he had approached you, then why didn't you issue a contempt of court notice to him?" Justice Sardar Tariq Masood asked the former judge.

Continuing with his questioning, Justice Masood asked Hamid Khan, who is pleading Siddiqui’s case, why his client did not even inform the chief justice. Khan replied that his client had sent a letter to the then chief justice, arguing that the apex court should have issued a contempt notice in the case.

"The general met you on June 28, 2018, and you wrote a letter to the chief justice on July 31, 2018. Why did you wait a whole month?" Justice Masood inquired. In response to the query, which Justice Masood had directed at Siddiqui's counsel Hamid Khan, the former judge himself turned up at the rostrum to respond to the bench.

"You should look at the situation at that time. The heads of institutions were after me," he said. "What might have happened in case I had issued a contempt notice?" the ex-judge questioned rhetorically.

"The head of the institution (Supreme Court) at that time, Saqib Nisar, was also after me," he told the bench, adding "If you want to hang me after this, then do so," he said.

Siddiqui said he was very well familiar with the system after having served three years as a lawyer, and seven years as a judge.

In response to his statement, Justice Bandial expressed annoyance at Hamid Khan, the petitioner's counsel, for "deliberately keeping mum" as his client spoke. "The way your client is exploding is totally uncalled for".

The counsel sought pardon from the judge, saying "emotions often overpower us".

Justice Bandial said emotions had no value [in the court], adding "we did not like the stance of your client and you kept allowing him to ridicule the court".

He asked Siddiqui's counsel to tell his client to avoid talking when the lawyer was present.

Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel asked why only Justice Siddiqui was allegedly targeted. The petitioner's counsel said his client "annoyed the ISI, perhaps that is why he was targeted".

With regards to Siddiqui's removal from the judge's post, Justice Ejaz-ul-Ahsan said the SJC didn't term the entire speech wrong, however, it just pointed out that making a speech itself was inappropriate. Justice Bandial, meanwhile, said judges often faced allegations, but they speak with their decisions.

After hour-long arguments in the case, the hearing was adjourned till Tuesday.

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