Expenses incurred on judges’ houses
The Supreme Judicial Council on Monday rejected three separate applications submitted by Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui seeking records of expenses incurred on the maintenance of official residences of all superior court judges. Justice Siddiqui is accused of spending more money on the refurbishment of his official residence than he was entitled to. A complaint in this regard had been filed with the SJC, which conducts inquiries against judges on charges of misconduct, by a retired employee of the Capital Development Authority.
For the first time in the country’s judicial history, the SJC had agreed to an open hearing of a reference against a judge upon Justice Siddiqui’s own request. Headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, the five-member council includes the chief justices of the Balochistan and Sindh High Courts. When the CJP inquired at the start of the hearing what evidence would be brought on record today, Justice Siddiqui’s lawyer, Hamid Khan, informed the top judge that his client had submitted applications requesting the council to order the production of documents and information that he could use in his defence.
The information the IHC judge had sought included the total expenditures incurred during the last seven years on the maintenance of each official accommodation of the judges of the Supreme Court, Federal Shariat Court and all the high courts. The list and particulars of those superior court judges should also be provided who, despite having official accommodation, kept on receiving, or are still receiving, house rent allowance at a rate of Rs65,000 per month, the lawyer quoted one of those applications as saying.
However, Justice Nisar remarked that the bench did not want the proceedings of this reference to drag on, and instead asked the lawyer to focus his arguments against the allegations brought against the IHC judge. “There is no purpose behind summoning this record,” he observed, noting that the applications had not sought the record of a specific judge but of all superior court judges.