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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) deferred the indictment of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in contempt case as he expressed willingness to apologise to additional sessions judge of Islamabad Zeba Chaudhry, but asked him to submit an affidavit in this connection.

A five-member larger bench of the IHC headed by Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah and comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb, Justice Babar Sattar, and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jehangri, on Thursday, heard the contempt case against Imran and expressed its satisfaction over the apology tendered by the PTI chairman.

The IHC bench noted in its written order, “We are, prima facie, satisfied with the apology rendered by the respondent. Let him file an affidavit for consideration of this Court before the next date fixed.” It further said, “Let the matter be adjourned to 03-10-2022 for framing of charge against the respondent.”

At the onset of the proceeding, the chief justice said they would be framing charges against the contemnor. However, the PTI chairman’s counsel Hamid Khan told the bench that his client wanted to speak. Upon acceptance of his request, former prime minister Imran Khan came to the rostrum and submitted that his 26 years’ struggle was for the rule of law, respect and independence of judiciary, and no political leader other than him spoke of rule of law in every public gathering.

Imran stated that he realised during the proceedings that he may have crossed a red line. He stated that he never intended to threaten the judge of the District Court and that his intention behind his statement was to refer to legal action.

Imran assured the bench that he was willing to clarify before the judge of the District Court that neither he nor his party sought any action against her and was willing to apologize if she felt that he had crossed a line.

IHC decides to indict Imran Khan in contempt of court case

The ex-PM further assured the court that he would never do anything in future that would hurt the dignity of the Court and the judiciary and especially the lower judiciary. Imran submitted that he was willing to take any further steps that this Court deemed necessary to satisfy this Court that he had never intended to interfere with the process of the court or impugn the dignity or independence of the judiciary.

The bench on September 8 after expressing dissatisfaction over the PTI chairman’s replies to a show cause notice decided to indict him in contempt of court.

Imran Khan in his second reply on September 7 also stated that he expresses deep regrets over his unintentional utterances during the course of his speech at a rally which was taken out in response to the shocking news of physical torture of Shahbaz Gill, but did not apologise. The IHC on August 31 had granted him another chance to file a reply to the show-cause notice.

Reuters adds: Former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said sorry in a contempt of court case and promised not to hurt the dignity of the judiciary, the court said, a concession that could avoid his disqualification from politics.

The charges are related to a speech by Khan in which he allegedly threatened police and a female judge last month after one of his close aides was denied bail in a sedition case.

“He stated that he realized during the proceedings that he may have crossed a red line,” the court said in a short order seen by Reuters. Kahn had previously denied being threatening.

The high court had been expected to indict Khan, a move that could have led to his exclusion from politics if convicted.

A convicted politician is liable to be disqualified for at least five years under Pakistani laws.

Local media present inside the courtroom quoted Khan, saying, “I’m sorry if I crossed any line.”

He assured he would never do anything in future that would hurt the dignity of the court or the judiciary, and he would willingly apologise to the female judge if she felt it necessary, the court order said.

“We are, prima facie, satisfied,” the order by a five-member court panel said, ordering Khan to submit an affidavit for consideration of the court before the next date of hearing, Oct 3. The court deferred the decision on whether to indict Khan, said his lawyer, Faisal Chaudhry.

Chaudhry told Reuters he expected charges would now mostly be dropped. “The court has appreciated the gesture,” he said. “We will prepare and submit in writing an unconditional apology as sought by the court.”

LEGAL WOES

The cricket-star turned politician has faced a barrage of legal woes since his ouster in a confidence vote in April by a united opposition led by his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Another of the critical cases against him is related to foreign funding for his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which an inquiry by an election tribunal has found unlawful.

Analysts say Khan, who won election in 2018 with the backing of Pakistan’s military, fell out of favour with the powerful generals in his last months in office.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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