They are neither a sacred cow nor a powerful bull, observed Supreme Court Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed while hearing a case related to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Judge Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, who is seeking an open trial of a reference pending against him before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
The court appointed senior lawyers Shahid Hamid and former Attorney General Munir A Malik as amicus curiae (friend of court).A five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprisingustice Sh Azmat Saeed, Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, resumed hearing in the petition filed by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui for an open trial instead of in-camera proceedings.
The court also sought within two weeks reply of the attorney general over the plea of Justice Siddiqui and adjourned the hearing for date-in-office. The court the other day had declined the request of Justice Siddiqui, seeking suspension of the SJC proceedings against him for his alleged misconduct.
On Wednesday, the court, during the course of proceedings, observed that it wanted to solve the issue and due to the sensitivity of the case, appointed amicus curiae to assist it in the instant matter.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that they had to determine boundaries between an independent judiciary and the accountability of judges. He said that there was a difference between Justice Siddiqui case and Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry case as the latter’s case was sent by the president himself. He said: “We don’t want to bury this case. Neither are we a sacred cow, not are a powerful bull. Judges accountability is also essential, but during the course of accountability maintaining independence of the judiciary was also necessary.”
Justice Ijazul Ahsen observed that the instant matter was one of public interest, adding that this is a unique case and will have far-reaching consequences. Through his petition, Justice Siddiqui has raised the fundamental question that there is no prescribed procedure available to conduct an inquiry or hold trial of a judge belonging to the superior judiciary. The available procedure, he insists, was introduced without any mandate from the Constitution or any other statute.