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The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday gave Special Advisor to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan time till Nov 9 to submit a written explanation on why she should not be convicted for committing contempt of court.

The IHC had slapped Awan with a contempt of court notice for criticizing decision after it granted former premier Nawaz Sharif bail on medical grounds.

After accepting her unconditional apology, the court had slapped her with another contempt notice with directives to submit a written explanation.

The notice said Awan "attempted to give an impression" that the IHC had extended "special dispensation" to the former premier. It also observed that her October 29 statement "amounts to prejudicing the pending proceedings".

"By doing so, you prima facie made an attempt to influence the proceedings of a pending appeal and acted with intent to thwart the course of justice and thereby committed criminal contempt."

During the hearing, a single-judge bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah was informed by Awan's lawyer that Awan had not submitted a written explanation yet.

Awan maintained she had never maligned the court in her 20-year-long political career. She tendered another unconditional apology.

Justice Minallah observed that the high court was the target of a similar critique in 2014 when it halted arrests of protesters by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The IHC Chief Justice said the high court will follow the law and will not offer discounts to anyone. "Even a hardened criminal deserves a fair trial."

"My picture with Supreme Court judges is being propagated as a meeting with PML-N members," said Justice Minallah.

"What does it mean when the government itself speaks of a deal? The government may let someone go but the judiciary won't," he remarked.

The hearing was adjourned till Monday with directives to Awan to submit a written reply by Saturday.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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