LAHORE: Several lawyers and human rights activists gathered outside the official residence of deposed judge Justice MA Shahid Siddiqui on Monday night after reports that the government was going to forcibly have the residence vacated. The deposed judge said the government had not given him a timeframe to vacate the house, but action could be taken against him by Tuesday morning.
The protestors outside the residence included Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) chairperson Asma Jehangir, Hina Jillani, Bushra Aitzaz, Rabbiya Bajwa, SCBA media adviser Muhammad Azhar Siddiqui, American human rights activists Tighe Barry and Maede Banjaman and dozens more.
They had put up lit candles along the road in front of the house and shouted slogans against the LHC chief justice. Asma had made arrangements to stay outside the deposed judge’s residence overnight and to resist any attempt to have his residence vacated.
The deposed judge told reporters at his residence in GOR-I (14-Tollinton Road) that the Lahore High Court administration had threatened to throw him out of his official residence if he did not vacate it soon. He said, “I asked the caretaker chief minister to intervene, but he turned around and told me that the issue was between me and the LHC chief justice and that he was here only to conduct an election and return home.” The deposed judge’s family was seen going from room to room packing their belongings.
He said one of the three LHC additional registrars, who had been tasked to get the house vacated, had told him that he and his family could be forced out if they did not vacate it. He said the registrars had been ordered to ask a senior bureaucrat’s assistance in this regard. He said his landline telephone had been disconnected on Monday, while his official driver had been taken back.
He said he would not join the lawyers’ movement, as he was a sitting judge and could not take part in such activity. However, he praised the lawyers for taking steps to uphold the rule of law and protect the judiciary. He said the people had started a movement against government highhandedness and that all judges who opted not to take oath under the PCO supported them
UPDATE – excerpt from Emergency Times
Human Shield Prevents Forcible eviction of Justice Shahid Siddiqui
Attempts to forcibly evict Justice Shahid Siddiqui from his official residence: Civil society activists, lawyers and retired judges – including Asma Jahangir, Hina Jilani, Asad Jamal and many others stayed outside his house all night (in the bitter Lahore cold).
They are rotating some 40-50 protesters outside the house at any given time forming a human shield to prevent the Punjab government from forcibly evicting him, said Hamid Khan (former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association). He said that there are only two non-PCO judges living in government housing in Lahore’s GOR, Justice Shahid Siddiqui and Justice Ijaz Ahmed Choudhry – the others live in their own residences.
Several student protesters from the lahore press club protest later joined the vigil outside Justice Siddiqui’s house. By4.30 pm, scores of student activists had gathered there. “The Justice also came out to speak to the protesters and lauded the efforts of the lawyers, students, media and activists. The protest went ahead despite threats from the police to arrest students from the universities involved.”
When the current ‘CJ’ sent eviction orders to them (in violation of their own rules, which state that even on forced retirement an employee is given six months notice to find alternate accommodation), Shahid Siddiqui responded by challenging his authority and serving a contempt of court notice on him.
Anyone in the area – please go & support the cause – 14 Tollington road, GOR I, Lahore.