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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Monday, deferred the indictment of former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Rana Muhammad Shamim in a contempt case against him.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the case, in which, he had issued show cause notices to Shakilur Rehman, Editor-in-Chief, Aamir Ghouri, Editor, Ansar Abbasi, and Rana Mohammad Shamim, former chief judge of the Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit-Baltistan, after publication of a news item claiming that Rana Shamim executed an affidavit in which he levelled allegations against former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar.

The court again directed Shamim to submit the original affidavit he authored and signed in London and adjourned the framing of charges against the alleged contemnors till December 20.

During the proceedings, Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan said that Shamim had deliberately leaked the contents of the affidavit and the proceedings regarding the indictment could be resumed after submission of the original document.

He also said that the responses submitted by Ansar Abbasi and Shamim were contradictory and they must be ordered to submit counter-affidavits. However, the court said that it was giving another chance to the accused to satisfy the bench over the proceedings against them.

Abbasi also contested the response of Shamim submitted to the court that termed the contents of the affidavit were “confidential”. He said that when he contacted Shamim to seek his version, the former judge did not mention anything of the sort.

At this, Justice Minallah said that Abbasi could submit a new response, if he wanted to add anything to his defence. The IHC chief justice also asked whether a newspaper would publish an affidavit given to it by somebody to “tarnish the image” of a judge. Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) secretary general Nasir Zaidi, who is amicus curiae in the case, responded that it was a journalist’s duty to publish a news report based on facts.

Justice Minallah remarked that the sensationalism of the news gave an impression that judges take directions and it should also have been written that the judge [mentioned in the affidavit] was on leave in those days.

He observed that news of subjudice cases could not be published. He recalled that Shamim had said he had not given the affidavit to anyone. When the PFUJ secretary general said that the country’s history was “very harsh”, the IHC CJ asked him not to go into the past. He further said that he was only responsible for the IHC.

The judge said that he would not listen to any political speeches and added that the public’s trust in this court has been damaged by one news item. The IHC bench mentioned that it was hearing a case related to a verdict of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and maintained that trust in the court was being damaged.

The court also pointed out that Rana Shamim said the notary public leaked the document. If his response is sent to the regulator in Britain, then it can become a problem for the notary public. Justice Minallah said that this is not just a case of contempt of court but this is matter of his own accountability.

The attorney general said that Shamim had admitted in his response that if he wanted to malign the judiciary then it would have been written in Pakistan and released to the media. He added that Rana admitted that the purpose of leaking his affidavit was to ridicule the judiciary and urged the court to set a date for indictment of Rana and the other respondents.

Then, the court adjourned the hearing till December 20th and directed Shamim to submit the original affidavit before that date.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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