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ISLAMABAD: Dissatisfied with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s reply to a show cause notice, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday decided to indict him in contempt of court for threatening an additional session’s judge of Islamabad.

The reply submitted on behalf of Imran Khan a day ago (September 7) stated; “The respondent (Imran Khan) takes this opportunity to express his deep regrets over his unintentional utterances during the course of his speech at a rally which was taken out in response to shocking news of physical torture of Shahbaz Gill.” A five-member larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah and comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb, Justice Babar Sattar, and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jehangri heard the contempt case against Imran.

Senior advocates, Munir A Malik and Makhdoom Ali Khan, who were appointed amicus curiae suggested the bench to discharge the show cause notice against the former prime minister. Even Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) representative Akhtar Hussain urged the high court to give one more opportunity to Imran for tendering an unconditional apology. However, the IHC unanimously decided to indict him.

The bench written order states; “We have considered the response so filed and have not found it satisfactory. We are not convinced that the respondent (Imran Khan) has purged himself of the wrongdoing alleged against him.”

Imran says he had no intention of threatening female judge

The Court had issued show cause notice to the ex-PM in view of the law laid down in Syed Masroor Ahsan v Ardeshir Cowasjee (PLD 1998 SC 823), Shahid Orakzai v Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Contempt proceedings against Senator Nehal Hashmi” “Suo Motu Contempt Proceedings” (PLD 2018 SC 773), “Suo Motu Contempt Proceedings” [PLD 2018 SC 738] and “The State v Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan (2020 PLD 109).”

During the proceeding, Imran Khan twice stood on his seat and wanted to speak, but the chief justice declined his request by saying that they have heard his counsels. Justice Minallah observed that the PTI chairman’s replies to the court’s show-cause notice appeared to be justifying contempt of the judiciary and showed no remorse or regret.

Hamid Khan, representing Imran, said that there was a difference between giving a justification and a clarification and here, he is giving a clarification.

Justice Minallah asked had you submitted the same reply if these words were used for a Supreme Court or a high court judge? He mentioned that Imran was giving the justification that Gill was tortured while in police custody. He asked that will the decisions be taken in rallies or the courts.

He also asked can a former prime minister take a stance of ignorance of the law. He made it clear that the judges of district courts were more important than those of the high court or Supreme Court.

Justice Sattar asked if this court takes legal action against Imran under the Contempt of Court Act, then would he publicly comment on it. Hamid answered that every citizen had the right to initiate legal proceedings. Imran’s lawyer argued that his client had stated multiple times that he was never against the judiciary. “He ran a campaign for the freedom of the judiciary,” Hamid pointed out.

He clarified that the PTI chairman’s aim was not to use harsh words against the female judge. He added that there is a difference between a justification and a clarification.

Justice Minallah asked why the judges of the lower courts were considered different to those of higher courts. He added you are justifying contempt of court which means that you have no remorse or regret.

Justice Sattar asked that if the PTI would threaten “action” against the five judges who are hearing the case if he was not happy with their decision.

At the onset of the proceeding, Hamid maintained that his client wanted the matter to be closed, which was mentioned in the written reply to the court. He further said that during the hearing on August 31, the court handed over the cases of Daniyal Aziz and Talal Chaudhry. He added that he would explicate how Imran’s case was different from those Supreme Court decisions. “I will also place the decision of the Supreme Court in the Imran Khan case before the court”, he said.

The IHC CJ said that the aim was to highlight three judgments of the Supreme Court, that in the Firdous Ashiq Awan case, three types of contempt of court are mentioned and that the Talal Chaudhry case was not criminal contempt of court.

The chief justice reiterated that criminal contempt of court was serious and intent could not be mentioned in it. He further stated that the counsel was told during the last hearing that this reference was of criminal contempt of court.

CJ Minallah maintained that there were no criminal contempt proceedings against Daniyal Aziz or Talal Chaudhry and that the high court was bound by the apex court’s decisions.

Imran’s counsel said that his client had used the word regret in his response on the court’s orders and once again requested the court to dismiss the case. He maintained that they can assure the court that Imran Khan will be more careful in the future.

Justice Minallah remarked that there were three types of contempt of court charges: judicial, civil, and criminal. He added that those cases do not fall under criminal contempt as they talked about the role of the court while Imran had commented on a matter that was sub-judice and they have not initiated contempt proceedings in an attempt to scandalise the court. The judge also pointed out the criminal contempt was an offence that was “serious in nature”.

The case was adjourned until September 22.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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MalikSaabSays Sep 09, 2022 08:55am
Any entity that acts with scorn against accountability is entering the "Holy Cow" terrain. Don't want anyone to even raise questions. If you question, you are.... contemptuous?
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