ISLAMABAD, July 13: Legal proceedings in the Islamabad High Court on alleged corruption in the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and illegal allotment of land took a new turn on Friday when the presiding judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, was informed that a reference had been filed against him with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
Lawyer Munir Ahmed Ranjha, representing Faisal Sakhi Butt, Prime Minister’s coordinator on Islamabad affairs, broke the news when Justice Siddiqui observed that the court may appoint a commission to investigate the allegations made in the identical petitions of PPP Senator Babar Awan and Advocate Niazullah Niazi against his client.
Before his current position, Mr Butt, a local PPP leader, used to be PM’s adviser on CDA affairs but lost that title as a result of court action.
Justice Siddiqui rejected his request not to proceed with the cases of Mr Faisal Sakhi Butt till decision of SJC and refer the matter to any other bench, and directed the CDA to submit detail record of all the allotments it made during the last four years and adjourned hearing till July 17.
Justice Siddiqui said he had not received any notice from the SJC yet. “I don’t care the references filed by such persons and their consequences but will always fight to eradicate corruption in the capacity of a judge or lawyer,” he added.
Apparently, the filing of reference was an attempt of Mr Butt and his accomplices to influence the judicial process and restrain the court from proceeding against the alleged corrupt practices of Capital Development Authority bosses which caused huge loss to the national exchequer, the court observed.
It directed the CDA counsel to submit the detail record of its allotment made in last four years. It also directed Capital Development Authority director general planning Ghulam Sarwar Sandhu, director municipal administration Mansoor Ali Khan and others to file the reply regarding their meeting with Mr Butt in violation of the court’s orders.
Meanwhile, Mr Butt’s party said the filing of reference was “a matter of an individual.” President of PPP Punjab, Imtiaz Safdar Warraich, said Mr Butt did not take the PPP leadership into confidence and the reference was not politically motivated. The PPP could gain nothing from the initiative which was ‘entirely a personal act of Mr Butt,’ he said.
Every Pakistani citizen can file a reference against a sitting judge if he feels aggrieved of the actions of any judge, he added.
There was no other alternative remedy available except filing reference against the judge, said Mr Warraich.
In his reference filed with the SJC, he leveled serious allegations against Justice Siddiqui.
He alleged that Justice Siddiqui belonged to a political party (Jamaat-i-Islami) and previously had contested general elections from its platform.
Mr Butt himself would be a PPP candidate of NA-48, Islamabad.
The reference said the main contest on NA-48 seat had traditionally taken place between PPP and JI. “It is crystal clear that his lordship has started a malicious campaign against the complainant and is furthering his own political agenda by trying to undermine Faisal Sakhi Butt against the candidate of JI”.
The reference said Justice Siddiqui on verbal complaint of a petitioner had summoned Mr Butt in person in a case in which he was not a party.
It added that Justice Siddiqui had restrained the CDA officials from meeting chairman of the task force on the CDA. The task force was suspended by the court and Mr Butt later made PM’s chief coordinator and there was no embargo on meeting CDA officials with him.
He alleged that during the hearing of the said case, Justice Siddiqui had also pressured CDA officers to testify falsely against the PM’s coordinator and attempted to lay a trap for him. He said Justice Siddiqui clubbed the petition of Senator Babar Awan with the petitions already filed against him by other lawyers.
Senator Awan, however, contended in the court that the filing of the reference when the judge was hearing corruption charges was tantamount to obstructing the judicial process and fell under the ambit of contempt of court.
He said Article 204 of the Constitution was very clear and said the Supreme Court or a high court shall have power to punish any person who obstructed or tried to influence the court proceedings.