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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), on Monday, decided to open the sealed envelope of the original affidavit of former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Rana Shamim at the next hearing.

A single bench of IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the contempt of court case against former chief judge of GB and others for publishing a controversial affidavit of the former.

In this case, the court had already 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 GB after publication of a news item claiming that Shamim executed an affidavit, in which, he levelled allegations against former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar.

During the hearing, the additional attorney general informed the court that Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan was admitted in Aga Khan University Hospital and would return by Thursday.

Advocate Lateef Afridi, counsel for the former chief judge of GB, informed that the affidavit had been submitted to the IHC and the former judge has been standing by his statement since the day one. He added that the real affidavit was sealed and has now been brought to Pakistan on the court’s order.

Contempt case: IHC defers indictment of Rana Shamim

Justice Minallah said the sealed envelope was in its original condition and had not been opened by the court yet. He also said that the attorney-general had said the media’s role is secondary.

Shamim has admitted that the content published in the newspaper is [the same as] in his affidavit. Shamim has cast doubt on all judges of the IHC.

When the IHC chief justice asked Shamim’s lawyer to open the sealed envelope in which the affidavit was submitted to the court, Afridi replied that a new inquiry could be started by opening a sealed envelope.

Then, Justice Minallah said the envelope would be opened on the next date in the presence of the attorney-general.

He observed that the former chief judge of GB had apparently made a very big statement without any evidence and given an impression that all IHC judges were compromised. He continued that they would move forward in the light of Article 19 of the Constitution.

The judge said that the court has not yet decided to indict Shamim in the contempt case. He further said that the case would be discharged, if Shamim satisfied the court that he did not commit contempt of court.

The IHC CJ noted that freedom of expression is one of the most important fundamental rights, which the court had also mentioned in its judgments — but the situation becomes different when the freedom of expression goes against public interest.

Rana’s counsel requested the court to adjourn the hearing till the end of winter vacations.

Justice Minallah said that the IHC had not issued any notification about the winter vacations, and deferred the hearing till December 28.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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