–Senior lawyers express concern over IHC judge’s harangue against ISI, call for evidence of interference in judicial matters
ISLAMABAD: The unusual and startling remarks by Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui against alleged interference in judicial matters by the ISI have jolted the country in general and the legal fraternity in particular.
Addressing a packed to capacity hall at the Rawalpindi district courts, Justice Siddiqui– famous for banning ‘un-Islamic’ activities like celebrating Valentine’s Day, online porn and demanding that references against him in the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) be heard in public – alleged that a military-judicial nexus is working to keep the PML-N leadership at bay and influencing the judicial practices.
The probable candidate for the position of next IHC chief justice alleged that ISI has a role in subverting the judicial decisions, formation of benches and pressurising judiciary to keep former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter behind the bars till the election is concluded.
In this regard, Pakistan Today reached out to the senior members of legal fraternity and asked how they see the whole episode and its implications for the judiciary and country.
‘POLITICS NOT JUDGES’ DOMAIN’:
Advocate Supreme Court and former attorney general Irfan Qadir was of the view that if Justice Siddiqui has evidence of such wheeling dealing then he should put them forward.
“There is a cold war going on between judges and in the middle of this if sitting judges are thinking that some other power is influencing their decisions than it must be taken seriously,” said Qadir, adding that he stressed time and again that the need of the hour is that judges keep themselves away from the political matters as this is not their domain.
“Shaukat Siddiqui has simply said that the strings of the court are being handled from somewhere else,” he added. When asked about the pending references against Justice Siddiqui, Qadir said that references have been dealt as a hanging sword and it is about time that they are decided for once and for all.
Advocate Supreme Court and Pakistan Bar Council member Azam Nazeer Tarar termed the whole incident very alarming and regretted that the bar leadership failed to play their role in voicing the rampant concerns about the perceived nexus between judiciary and military.
“It is yet another incident which confirms the doubts in the minds of the people, in general, and lawyer community, in particular, as they’ve fought an arduous war for the supremacy of the law and independence of judiciary,” he said, adding that this episode has upset the applecart and has provided testimony for what was previously uttered in hush tones and whispers.
SENATE PROBE DEMANDED:
Pakistan Bar Council Vice President and Advocate Supreme Court Kamran Murtaza termed the whole incident very serious. “Before Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s address, such things were mere hearsay and gossip, however, with the statements by a sitting judge it is time that the nation think about the concerns. A committee of Senate must be formed to look into the allegations,” he suggested.
Murtaza stressed that different people were sharing their experiences with their friends and public at large. “Justice Siddiqui has shared his experience and I, as Vice President of Pakistan Bar Council, demand that the matter be looked into promptly,” he said.
‘JUDGE FEARS SJC JUDGEMENT’:
Former president of Islamabad High Court Bar and Advocate Supreme Court Arif Chaudhary differed from his colleagues and stressed that Justice Siddiqui ‘acted out’ because his references are slated to be heard by Supreme Judicial Council on the 30th.
Chaudhry believes that the judge did to “in a bid to portray himself as a freedom fighter and upright person trying to bag sympathies and gathering support for he fears that he’ll be given an adverse judgment by the SJC”.