ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought direction from the Attorney General of Pakistan over Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s petition wherein he appealed to be given an open trial before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
The two-judge bench, comprised of Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh and Justice Qazi Faez Isa, has also referred the matter to Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar to consider forming a larger bench for hearing the IHC judge’s petition.
SC to take up serving IHC judge case today
Senior lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan presented the argument before the bench on behalf of the IHC judge. However, the top court did not suspend the SJC proceedings against the IHC judge but has issued notices to all respondents including the AGP.
On May 18, the SJC had dismissed his plea seeking an open trial. The council was scheduled to resume hearing of the misconduct case in the first week of November wherein it would record evidence against him.
But the IHC judge’s 14-page constitutional petition requested the SC to declare that SJC’s order May 18 null and void as it was passed without lawful authority.
Pleading the court to suspend the SJC proceedings against him till a decision is made on the petition, the judge also requested that the SJC be told that he has a fundamental right to insist that an inquiry into his conduct be conducted publicly.
The petition stated that the council’s May 18 order, by upholding paragraph 13 (1) of the SJC Procedure of Inquiry 2005, which permits the proceedings of the council in camera, violates Article 10-A of the Constitution, adding that Article 10-A provides every citizen with the right to a fair trial and due process.
It further stated that the IHC judge had nothing to hide as his dignity was not compromised if open proceedings were held.
Likewise, it was stated that the due process requires a person to be given a reasonable opportunity to defend himself, adding that this was not guaranteed in a secret trial.
The council is scheduled to resume the hearing of this case on November 7. The SC bench has nonetheless recommended that the case be fixed for an early hearing.