Governor Sindh, Justice (Retd) Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui eminent jurist and former chief justice of Pakistan, passed away after protracted illness here Wednesday evening. Doctors and family sources said that he had difficulties in breathing as his lungs had failed to function properly. He was 80.
He had an illustrious career as lawyer with former law and foreign minister of Pakistan Sharifuddin Pirzada, later as Sindh High Court judge, elevated to apex court, and delivered landmark judgements as judge of higher judiciary.
The biggest credit that could be attributed to him was that he always upheld justice and fairplay, and refused to bow to pressures, however dominant. He had refused point blank to former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf when the latter sought his help in seeking legitimacy to his unlawful rule of throwing away an elected government of Nawaz Sharif in October 1999.This fact he revealed himself to this scribe, for being intimate and close to me.
He also alongwith four others, had refused to take oath to the provisional constitution order of the military ruler, and since then confined himself to chamber practice. Three of them were his colleagues from Sindh, and one from the Punjab. Among them were late Justice Mamoon Kazi, and Justice Kamal Mansoor Alam.
This was the time when Nawaz Sharif was facing trial before a special court of Rehmat Hussain Jaffri in a bungalow in Clifton and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The government later went into appeal before the Sindh High Court for turning the life imprisonment into death sentence. The Saudi government, picking up clue from hanging of late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, bailed him out, and gave him a red carpet welcome in the Holy Land.
Justice Siddiqi, also contested the Presidential elections as PML(N)) nominee against Asif Zardari of Peoples Party in 2008, ad although he was promised Presidentship, he was denied that position.
Siddiqi had taken oath as governor of the province on November 11, 2016, but within four days of oath taking he developed trouble in breathing and was hospitalized in a private clinic in Clifton. He returned to Governor’s House, but remained on sick bed so much so that a special room at the Governor’s House was turned into a kind of Intensive Care Unit.
He was frail and unable to move so much so that he could not attend a function at his official residence where President Mamnoon Hussain and Sindh chief minister were also present.
Siddiqi developed breathing problem and lung congestion around 8 o clock in the morning, and around 2.00 p.m. when his condition deteriorated, he was rushed to a private hospital in Clifton area. He was unable to walk, and was carried on stretcher and later in an ambulance to the hospital where doctors described his condition as very serious. He finally breathed his last shortly after asar time
Born in an educated middle class family of UP in India in 1938, Siddiqi, received his early education from Lucknow and then from Dhaka, then East-Pakistan and present-day Bangladesh.
He passed Matriculation from the Board of Secondary Education from Dhaka in 1952. In 1954, Siddiqui obtained intermediate in engineering sciences from the University of Dacca. He then moved to Karachi and attended Karachi University in 1954. At Karachi University, Siddiqui obtained B.A. in Philosophy and L.L.B in 1958. He began legal practice at the High Court of Sindh in 1960
Siddiqui was Chief Justice of Pakistan when former army chief General (retd) Pervez Musharraf staged the 1999 military coup. He defied Musharraf’s request for oath on PCO. saying, “Taking an oath under the PCO, in my opinion, will be a deviation from the oath I had taken to defend the constitution of 1973”.
Justice Siddiqui was picked for presidency in 2013, but at the last moment his name was replaced with Mamnoon Hussain’s as Siddiqui never joined the PML-N and would be neutral candidate.
He was awarded honorary membership of the Judicial Fraternity of Australia and Canada after his resignation from the office of the Chief Justice in Jan 2000, when he refused to take oath under the PCO.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain, expressing profound grief over, said Siddiqui’s services will be remembered for the supremacy of the law and the constitution. They said Siddiqui had never compromised over principles and always confronted non-democratic characters.
Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb Wednesday expressed deep grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Governor Siddiqui.
The minister, in a statement, said his services for upholding the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution would be remembered for a long time.
Army chief General Qamar Bajwa also expressed condolences with the grieved. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah expressed his deepest condolences over the passing of Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui.
Retired Justice Shaiq Usmani, former attorney general Pakistan Munir A. Malik, Advocate Akram Shaikh and Bilal Sofi Advocate remembered Siddiqui as an exemplary human being without equal. “He was a very good man, a very good judge and a very good chief justice,” they said.
Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has also expressed grief, condoling with the deceased family.