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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has questioned whether it is appropriate for a serving judge to express his concerns against anyone in public. A five-member special bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, heard the petition of former judge of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), Shaukat Siddiqui, against the recommendations of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), and the notification by the federal government of his removal.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said whatever is the reality but whether it suits a judge to make allegations against individuals and an institution in his speech at a public forum.

A serving judge made the speech at a public gathering and levelled allegations against the (IHC) chief justice and an institution, he added.

Upon that, Hamid Khan, the counsel for former judge, argued that it was not a public gathering, but a lawyers' function.

The chief justice and other judges were also present there and they too made speeches.

Justice Bandial inquired from the counsel that is he talking about former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

He added that the then CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry always made written speeches and never blamed anyone or crossed the limits.

Justice Ijaz said the question before the Court is very simple: "can a judge in the public express his concerns against anyone?"

Justice Bandial asked Hamid Khan to read out the speech of Siddiqui.

The Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) stated that the main issue is about the maintainability of the petition. First, this hurdle needs to be crossed, he added.

Hamid Khan said Siddiqui challenged the SJC recommendations in the open court.

He argued that the petition has been held maintainable.

Justice Bandial said there is a difference between "considering" and "declaring" a petition maintainable.

Hamid Khan contended that before issuing a show cause notice, the inquiry should have been conducted, but no one probed the matter, adding that "everything was done contrary to the law."

Siddiqui said under Article 209 of the Constitution, he also has fundamental rights.

Justice Ijaz said Siddiqui is an intelligent man but in this case, he is an accused person, adding that evidence is required in cases that have to be proven, but in this case, record is available.

The bench due to shortage of time adjourned the matter until June 2nd.

Siddiqui was removed by the president of Pakistan, subsequent to the SJC's recommendations.

In October 2019, he filed a petition under Article 184(3) read with Articles 187 and 190 of the Constitution praying that the SJC report and notification be set aside, and he may be restored as a judge of the IHC.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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