Disappointed IHC directs Imran Khan to resubmit response in contempt of court case in 7 days
- IHC CJ says leaders like Imran Khan should think before speaking.
- Court gives Khan one week to submit “well-considered” response”.
- IHC adjourns contempt of court proceedings till September 8.
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed on Wednesday PTI Chairman Imran to resubmit a “well-considered” response within the next seven days in the contempt of court case against him for threatening a female judge.
A five-member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, and Justice Babar Sattar heard the case.
In response to the IHC’s show-cause notice in the case, the PTI chairman did not apologise for threatening additional sessions judge of Islamabad, Zeba Chaudhry, offering, however, to withdraw his remarks “if they were inappropriate.”
The IHC CJ, during the hearing, said he was “disappointed” by the response of Khan in the case. He asked him to review his response and submit it once more.
Without asking Khan to come to the rostrum, the court adjourned the hearing and ordered that the response can be submitted through the PTI chairman’s counsel.
At the outset of the hearing, Khan’s lawyer Hamid Khan came forward and took the stand. IHC CJ Minallah told him that although he was Khan’s lawyer, he was also there to assist the court.
“I did not expect this from you,” the IHC CJ said in response to the reply that the lawyer submitted on behalf of Khan.
IHC CJ Minallah noted that a political party should always believe in upholding the law and the constitution. “In the last 70 years, a common man has not been able to make it to the high courts and the Supreme Court.”
The IHC CJ said that he was “disappointed” by the response that Khan submitted in response to the show-cause notice.
“The response that was submitted was not of the stature of a political leader like Khan.”
Justice Minallah said that he hoped that the PTI chairman would boost the court’s confidence, however, it should be noted that just like “the time that has passed by cannot come back, the words uttered through one’s tongue cannot be taken back”.
The court said that Khan is a popular leader and has a massive following, therefore, he should think before he speaks.
“I was expecting that he [Khan] might come to terms with the fact that he has done something wrong. A political leader has several followers, they should think before they speak.”
“Through your response, I feel that Imran Khan has not understood that he has done anything wrong,” the IHC CJ told the PTI chairman’s lawyer.
In the last three years — during PTI’s tenure — the IHC has raised the issue of torture without any fear, noting that the state has encouraged torture in the last 70 years.
“Torture, at any level, cannot be allowed. Is there a worse form of torture than making someone disappear?” the court asked, as the PTI keeps claiming that party leader Shahbaz Gill was tortured by the police.
Taking forward the PTI’s claims, Khan had earlier this month went on to criticise the additional district and sessions judge for rejecting his bail plea of Gill.
Justice Minallah asked who had control of Adiala Jail — where Gill was imprisoned for a few days. “If there’s even a small complaint of torture, then can the jail authorities imprison a person without medical examination?”
The IHC CJ went on to say that the PTI should look at the cases of journalists Asad Toor and Absar Alam. He added that during the last three years, the IHC sent such matters to the PTI’s federal cabinet.
“I wish they had raised their voice in this regard then.”
‘Courts never care about criticism’
During the proceedings, Islamabad Advocate-General Jahangir Jadoon tried to speak but was stopped. “This matter is between the person who has allegedly committed contempt of court and the court.”
The IHC CJ then asked when the high court wrapped up the case of the alleged torture of Gill and when the speech was made. At this, Khan’s counsel said that the court concluded the case on August 22 and the PTI chairman delivered the speech on August 20.
“The matter was already pending in the IHC while he made the speech. You should read Firdous Ashiq Awan’s judgement. Under PECA ordinance, the person speaking against institutions will not even get bail for six months.”
This court, IHC CJ said, nullified the PECA ordinance and then a smear campaign was started against it. “However, the courts never care about criticism.”
Moving on, Justice Minallah said that Khan keeps asking why the courts were opened at 12am — during the National Assembly’s vote of no-confidence against the ex-premier in April.
“This court will remain open for the weak 24/7. However, the courts do not need to justify before anyone as to why they open and when.”
Clear message against Oct 12, 1999
“The case of contempt of court is very serious,” he said, noting that the courts opening at 12am was a very clear message that they did not want the repetition of October 12, 1999 — the day when former dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law.
The IHC CJ then said that political leaders are misusing social media as photos of him and a judge of the Supreme Court were made viral and they were termed leaders of a political party.
“Wrong information was shared regarding a flat registered against my name in a foreign country,” he said, adding that his institution has also committed several mistakes.
The IHC CJ said that political parties do not prohibit their followers from uploading such posts. “If a leader tells their workers to stop, this will indeed stop.”
In response, Khan’s counsel asked whether he could speak.
The lawyer said that he was aware that the court was disappointed by the response, but noted that the petition raised general legal points.
“However, I do not want to raise them now.”
‘Matter very serious’
The IHC CJ then said that this was an open court and everything happening over here is transparent and that he would not allow contempt of court proceedings to be misused.
The court then said that this case also includes the matter pertaining to freedom of speech.
The lawyer then argued that he has also raised the point of dismissing the case as Khan had no intention of saying something like that against the judge.
The court then noted that the matter of Gill’s torture was already being heard at the IHC. “Check the record, then submit your response again, otherwise this court will take the matter forward.”
“This matter is very serious, the contempt of court proceedings could have ended today, but they aren’t due to the response that was submitted.”
‘Court cannot go against the verdicts of SC’
During the course of proceedings, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb remarked that Imran Khan has been given another chance to submit a reply to the show-cause notice.
“This court cannot go against the verdicts of the Supreme Court,” remarked Justice Minallah and advised Khan’s counsel to understand the seriousness of the matter and submit a reply carefully.
“Change will come in this country only when all institutions do their work according to the constitution,” noted the IHC CJ.
At this, Hamid Khan said that his client had no intention to say this about the judicial officer.
Justice Minallah said that the only concern of this court is the independence of the judiciary and directed the lawyer to read out three verdicts of the SC in this regard.
Meanwhile, the court ordered Imran Khan to submit his reply to the show-cause notice within seven days again.
During the proceedings, Khan’s counsel suggested appointing Munir A Malik as a judicial assistant. Replying to the lawyer, the CJ said that the nation is divided and asked him to name a person with such a reputation that he is acceptable to everyone. The attorney general, however, suggested the name of Makhdoom Ali Khan.
Justice Minallah also directed the representative of the federal government to review the sedition and treason cases.
The proceedings could have been concluded today but they will have to continue the proceedings after this reply, remarked Justice Aurangzeb.
“You accuse us that Pakistan’s judiciary ranks 130th in the world,” Justice Minallah said, adding that they had told Fawad Chaudhry in a case that the number was of the executive.
Meanwhile, the IHC adjourned the hearing till September 8.
Khan offers to take back remarks against judge
A day earlier, Khan had petitioned the high court praying that the terrorism case against him be quashed and offered to take back his words against a district and sessions judge.
The PTI chairman did not apologise for threatening additional sessions judge of Islamabad, offering, however, to withdraw his remarks “if they were inappropriate.”
“As someone who believes in rule of law and a strong independent justice system, the respondent does not believe in hurting the feelings of honorable judges.
“The respondent submits with humility that if words he uttered is regarded as inappropriate, he is willing to take them back,” he said, urging the court to evaluate the speech within the context it was made.
Khan added that his remarks against the additional sessions judge were not obstruction of justice, nor were they intended to undermine the integrity and credibility of the judicial system.
On August 23, a larger bench of the IHC issued a show-cause notice to Khan after taking up contempt of court proceedings against him for threatening additional sessions judge during a public rally.
The bench comprised Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Babar Sattar and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb.
The court summoned Khan in personal capacity on August 31, and forwarded the case to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, seeking the inclusion of more judges on the bench.
The PTI chair had staged a rally in the federal capital on August 20 to express solidarity with his chief of staff Shahbaz Gill after claims of torture inflicted on him in custody. He warned the Islamabad inspector-general and deputy inspector-general that he would “not spare” them, vowing to file cases against them for subjecting Gill to alleged inhuman torture.
Turning his guns towards the additional sessions judge, who sent Gill into physical remand on the police’s request, Khan then said she [the judge] should brace herself for consequences.
‘Judge should’ve been charged for insulting Khan’
In response, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz sarcastically remarked that the female judge should be charged with contempt of court.
“The female judge should be charged with contempt of court as she insulted Imran Khan,” she said in a sarcastic tweet.
Supreme Court seeks govt assurance on lowering ‘political temperature’
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked for the government’s assurance it would take steps to lower the feverish political temperature in the country, before adjourning the hearing of the PTI petition in the election delay case till tomorrow (Thursday).
During today’s hearing, the five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, hotly debated whether the court’s March 1 order was given with a 4-3 majority or 3-2.
The confusion emerged after the SC resumed the hearing of the election delay case today, a day after a hard-hitting resolution was passed by the National Assembly holding “undue interference by the judiciary in political matters as a cause of political instability in the country”.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has filed a petition against the ECP’s March 22 order postponing the elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa citing multiple reasons.
The bench comprised Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail as members.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Mandokhail clarified his remarks from the previous hearing, saying that it had caused “great confusion”.
“I stand by my detailed order,” the justice said, explaining that one part of the judgment was about the administrative powers.
He said that the CJP would be asked to form a judges’ committee to look into the rules of administrative powers.
Yesterday, he had remarked that the number of judges who favoured the March 1 ruling was an internal matter of the apex court.
“In the second part of the verdict, four of us judges rejected the suo motu notice and pleas,” he said, adding that the judgement by the four judges was the order of the court.
He, however, stated that this order was not issued by CJP Bandial.
“How did the president give a date when there wasn’t a verdict, how did the election commission issue the schedule,” he asked.
“An order of the court is signed by all the judges,” Justice Mandokhail declared.
After this, the lawyers of the ruling alliance proceeded to the rostrum.
Senior lawyer Farooq H Naek requested the court to form a full court for the clarification of the March 1 judgement.
“It is necessary to [fulfil] the requirements of justice that it is decided that whether it was a 3-2 or 4-3 split verdict,” Naek maintained. He said that the entire country’s fate depended on the matter as the nation is stuck in a dilemma.
At this, CJP Bandial directed the lawyer to submit his request in writing and warned against spoiling the court’s environment.
“[We] will decide this matter when there is a petition,” the chief justice said while announcing that the court will hear ECP’s arguments first.
ECP’s counsel Sajeel Swati asked how the commission could issue an election schedule when it did not receive the order of the court.
“A Supreme Court order is the order of the court, which wasn’t even issued,” he said. He also asked if the ECP had seen the brief order.
At this, the lawyer maintained that they might have made a mistake in understanding the judgement.
Meanwhile, Justice Akhtar inquired if the brief verdict stated it was a 4-3 split verdict. He said that the March 1 judgement does not state anywhere that it is a 4-3 split verdict.
“Having a difference of opinion is the right of the judge but the minority of judges cannot claim to be inclusive of the majority under any law,” Justice Akhtar observed.
He further stated that five judges heard the case in an open court and signed the order after issuing the verdict.
At this point, Justice Mandokhail interjected that the brief verdict stated that the judges gave their dissenting notes.
“The dissenting note clearly stated that [we] agree to the decision of Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Athar Minallah. Did their decision disappear into thin air,” he asked.
At this, CJP Bandial interjected that matters related to the chambers should be left where they belong and said that Attorney General of Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan would give his arguments on the matter.
However, Justice Mandokhail asked what the ECP’s stance on the detailed verdict was.
The lawyer informed the court that he had not taken the electoral body’s directive over the 4-3 split verdict.
The lawyer further maintained that the electoral body started implementation on the court’s order as per its understanding and suggested the date as per Section 57 of the Election Act after it was received on March 3.
When asked about the time of ECP’s order to postpone polls, the lawyer said that it was issued on the evening of March 22, by the time all the work related to scheduling and nomination papers had been wrapped up.
The ECP’s legal representative highlighted the security concerns in the country and informed the court about the army’s refusal to provide security during the polls and the agencies’ reports on terrorist threats in KP.
As CJP Bandial inquired if the election commission had informed the president about these issues, Swati said that they had.
“Reports about terrorism in KP are serious,” the CJP remarked.
At this, Justice Akhtar remarked that the ECP was relying on the letters of February 8 while the apex court announced the decision on March 8
“In February, you knew that you had to conduct elections in October. Then why was the date of April 30 suggested to the president?” he asked.
At this, the ECP’s lawyer maintained that he had referred to the intelligence agencies’ reports as a background but the decision to defer the polls was taken on March 22.
He further informed the court that the Finance Ministry told the ECP that they can’t issue funds for polls in the current fiscal year. Moreover, ECP was told that the Punjab Police lacked 297,000 security personnel needed for the polls.
‘Under any circumstances’
Moving on, Justice Bandial remarked that the elections had to be conducted in 2023 under any circumstances, and asked why funds hadn’t been reserved for it in the annual budget.
At this, the AGP maintained that the budget for the polls had to be reserved for the next fiscal year. He added that they did not take into account the early dissolution of assemblies.
Upon the CJP’s inquiry, the AGP said that Rs47 billion will be spent if the elections are held altogether in the entire country and Rs20 billion will be spent extra if the provincial elections are held early.
The ECP’s lawyer also reiterated the security threats faced by public and political leaders due to rising terror attacks.
“The information you are giving is of serious nature. Didn’t you bring all of this in the president’s notice,” CJP Bandial asked. It was ECP’s fault if the president hadn’t been informed of this because the president gave the election date with the commission’s advice, he added.
Moreover, the ECP’s lawyer informed the apex court that the operations in Punjab’s kaccha (riverine) area would take six months to complete.
CJP Bandial acceded that the issue of terrorism was genuine. However, he pointed out that the issue was not new.
“Polls had been conducted thrice in the 90s when sectarianism and terrorism were at their peak,” he said.
He observed that the ECP suggested the dates without stating these facts to the president.
Besides, Justice Akhtar inquired if the ECP would organise the polls if the institutions provide assistance to it.
“Apparently, the ECP’s entire case was based on the letters [threat alerts], while non-availability of the funds is also an issue,” he observed.
After this, the court adjourned the hearing for a while.
Once the hearing resumed after the break, the ECP lawyer informed the bench that the new date — October 8 — was not temporary. He further added that the security agencies feared that if elections are held in some areas, terrorists would target those specific areas.
“The security agencies have said that arrangements will be completed by the date (October 8),” said the ECP lawyer.
On this point, Justice Akhtar remarked that it’s the ECP’s responsibility to carry out elections. He added that if the ECP had any issues it should have come to the court.
“The election commission should clarify why it differed the polls by six months,” said justice Akhtar.
While Justice Mandokhail observed that the ECP’s authority to conduct elections starts when an election date is set.
On this, the ECP lawyer responded that if the date is fixed, the ECP has the authority to extend it.
However, Justice Ahsan remarked that the ECP can change the election programme but not the date of the polls.
“Is Section 58 of the Election Act above the constitution?” asked the judge.
On the other hand, CJP Bandial agreed with Justice Akhtar that the ECP should have contacted the apex court, and asked the lawyer to convince the bench by today.
“Is October 8 a magical date that guarantees that everything will be alright?” asked the CJP, wondering why the election date could not be September 8 or August 8.
On being probed by the bench on the election date was set for April when the commission was already aware that it would not be possible, the ECP’s counsel said that they had been unaware of the sensitivity of the matter.
Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan then chided the commission’s counsel, saying that the president had not been apprised of the matter, even though it was the ECP’s duty to do so
The chief justice further pointed out that the new election schedule had not been announced.
In response, the ECP’s counsel argued that the law not only guaranteed free and fair elections but also guaranteed protection of life.
“The court can annul the ECP’s order only if it is unconstitutional and based on malice,” he argued.
On being asked if the petitioner had raised the point of malice, ECP’s counsel Sajeel said it was not.
Justice Munib reiterated the responsibility of the ECP in holding fair and timely elections. He further inquired if the ECP would withdraw from its responsibility of holding elections if all the assemblies were dissolved.
The ECP counsel said that were the funds and security to be arranged for, the elections could be held on April 30.
“In 1988, elections were delayed by the order of the court. In 2008, the situation was such that no one objected to postponing the elections, we pray that the incident of 2008 is not repeated, he said.
The ECP counsel then stressed that Article 218-3 of the Constitution underscored the importance of transparent and fair elections.
On the CJP’s remarks that minor disputes are only to be expected, the ECP’s advocate said that the election organising authority feared violence may break out.
The CJP then turned his attention to another topic.
“Overseas Pakistanis demand the right to vote, while the Supreme Court’s order is also available, yet the commission has done nothing about it,” he commented.
The CJP then inquired of the government whether the six-month period could be reduced?
At this, the argument of the ECP lawyer was concluded.
Registrar office accepts ruling alliance’s pleas
Earlier, the SC Registrar’s Office accepted the separate pleas of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) to become parties in the case.
The coalition government had decided to become a party in the case a day earlier.
The members of the ruling alliance had filed the pleas in the SC to become a party and will present their stance when the hearing resumes.
PM Shehbaz directs redressal of MQM-P reservations over census
- Party shares concerns about ongoing census.
- It also informs premier about Karachi’s issues.
- MQM-P has demanded fresh, impartial census.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday issued directives to relevant authorities to resolve the concerns and issues of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) over the ongoing census.
In a statement released by the PM Office, the development came during a meeting between the premier and MQM-P delegation — comprising Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Information Technology and Telecommunication Minister Syed Aminul Haque — while Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq was also present.
During the meeting, the MQM-P delegation congratulated the prime minister for the legislation of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, the statement read.
The delegation shared their reservations with the prime minister regarding the ongoing digital census in Pakistan and also informed him about the issues in Karachi.
A day earlier, MQM-P senior leader Farooq Sattar rejected the ongoing first-ever digital census — which is the seventh national census in the country — being conducted by the Sindh government employees.
The party’s decision came days after Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) chief statistician Dr Naeem Uz Zafar said that “it is not necessary that Karachi’s population will show as 30 million” after the census.
Sattar expressed fears that a plan has been devised to show less population than the actual headcount of Sindh’s urban areas.
“46% of the population in Karachi has been counted,” he said, adding that it seemed that the total population of the metropolis would be shown around 20 million in the census.
The MQM-P leader also demanded a fresh census conducted by an impartial and private sector company. He also asked for access to the census data.
According to PBS chief statistician, about 60% of Pakistan has been enumerated in the ongoing country’s seventh population and house count.
This is the first time the country’s population is being counted digitally. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and MQM-P have time and again raised concerns over the population count in the port city.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, a part of the incumbent government himself, had threatened to quit the ruling alliance and said that Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had grave concerns over the ongoing census.
Judge threatening case: Imran Khan’s non-bailable arrest warrant issued
ISLAMABAD: An Islamabad court on Wednesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the judge-threatening case.
Civil judge Malik Aman announced the verdict rejecting former premier Imran Khan’s petition seeking exemption from today’s hearing.
The court also directed the PTI chief to appear before it on April 18.
During the hearing, Khan’s lawyers requested to retain his bailable arrest warrant as he was facing security threats.
“Imran Khan has security concerns, his life is in danger, the Islamabad High Court has also issued notices for withdrawing security from him,” the PTI chief’s counsel said.
At this, the judge said that no one has appeared on behalf of the prosecution yet, let’s see what they have to say.
Later, the court adjourned the hearing of the case till 11am.
After the break, Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi appeared in Civil Judge Malik Aman’s court and opposed Imran Khan’s plea for exemption from today’s appearance.
The prosecutor said that Khan is absent and the bailable warrant should be changed to non-bailable.
“Even the plea is not signed by him.”
After the arguments were completed by both parties on the plea, the court reserved the verdict which was announced later.
The charges, in this case, are related to a speech by Khan in which he allegedly threatened police and a female judge last year after one of his close aides, Shahbaz Gill, was denied bail in a sedition case.
The cricket star turned politician has faced a barrage of legal woes since his ouster in a confidence vote in April last year by a united opposition led by his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
A convicted politician is liable to be disqualified for at least five years under the laws of the land.
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