Apex Court Declares Justice Siddiqui's Removal ‘Unlawful'

The verdict was announced by a five-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Fazi Isa.

Apex Court Declares Justice Siddiqui's Removal ‘Unlawful'

The Supreme Court of Pakistan Friday declared as "illegal" former Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui's dismissal, instructing that he should be regarded as a retired judge instead.

A five-member bench of the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Fazi Isa, issued the verdict in a 23-page judgment. Aside from the Chief Justice, the bench included Justices Amin-ud-Din Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Irfan Saadat Khan. 

According to the ruling, the SJC proceeded against Justice Siddiqui on the "assumption that the truth or falseness of the allegations leveled" by the former judge was "irrelevant." It was also highlighted that the SJC held that Justice Siddiqui had failed to verify, independently confirm, substantiate, or prove the charges made by him. 

The former IHC judge's charges against then Maj. Gen. Faiz Hameed and a handful of his subordinates were described as "very serious" in the verdict.

According to the verdict, “Justice Siddiqui was not given the opportunity to prove his charges, nor was he brought face to face with those he had charged. When we discovered this gap, we notified all of the people against whom he made charges and gave them the option to accept or deny them. All of them have denied their alleged involvement. As a result, it was even more important for the SJC to investigate the situation and determine who was speaking the truth. The SJC gave no credence to Justice Siddiqui's own statements or the contents of his reply; instead, the SJC presumed that they were untrue and determined that Justice Siddiqui had committed misconduct. It would not be possible to classify such a decision as fair or in accordance with due process standards.” 

“Justice Siddiqui was not given the opportunity to substantiate the accuracy of his claims, as was required by the SJC when they were relied upon for his removal from office,” the judgment read. 

The apex court emphasized that Article 10A protects a right to a fair trial and due process, which Justice Siddiqui was "deprived of."

"The Constitution ensures that a judge's tenure is safe since it establishes an independent judiciary while also allowing a judge to be removed from office if he commits misconduct after being given a fair trial and due process, as required by Article 10A of the Constitution. However, Justice Siddiqui was not given the opportunity to demonstrate the veracity of the claims he made, but rather penalized for making them," stated the ruling.  

The Supreme Court stated that if the SJC, after conducting an inquiry, had found Justice Siddiqui's accusations "false," he "would have been guilty of misconduct," but it could not proclaim that the allegations were untrue without first conducting an investigation.