Imran Khan’s contempt of court is ‘criminal one’: IHC

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Court says former prime minister will be indicted on Sept 22; Justice Sattar observes words used by Imran were ‘threatening’
ISLAMABAD
A larger bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) resumed on Thursday the hearing of the contempt of court case against former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan for allegedly threatening a female judge.
Former premier and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan appeared before the IHC. The five-judge bench was headed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and comprises Just­ice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri and Justice Babar Sattar.
While presenting his arguments before the court, Hamid Khan, Imran Khan’s lawyer, said: “We have submitted our written reply to the court. We want the court to end the contempt proceedings. In the previous hearing, Imran Khan was directed to submit another reply which we complied.”
At this, the court directed Hamid Khan to read a Supreme Court decision. “We are bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court,” IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked. “We are grateful to the court for giving this opportunity to us. The court directed to read Talal Chaudhry and Daniyal Aziz cases.
[But] Both these cases are completely different from that of Imran Khan,” Hamid Khan said. “There are judicial, civil and criminal contempt of court. We have not initiated contempt proceedings for scandalising the court. The criminal contempt of court is of a very serious nature,” Justice Athar Minallah said.
“We had explained to you that this is criminal contempt of court. We had advised you to submit your answer after careful consideration. Your answer was final, and we have read it thoroughly,” he added.
“We had explained to you that this is criminal contempt of court, but you did not care. Can a former prime minister justify that he did not know the law?” Justice Athar Minallah questioned. “In his reply, Imran Khan did not even write the torture of Shahbaz Gill as “alleged”.
Will decisions be made in public rallies or the courts will make decisions?” he remarked. During the hearing of the case, Justice Babar Sattar said that the words that had been used against a lady judge were threatening.
“What will happen if Imran Khan does not like the decision of this five-member bench of the Islamabad High Court? Will Imran Khan stand up and say that I will take action against you?” Justice Babar Sattar remarked. “A leader is greatly responsible in his words. Every single word of his speech is important,” he added.
“The seriousness of Nehal Hashmi’s case was less, but the Supreme Court still punished him. If we start contempt of court proceedings, we will keep doing the same thing every day what we do not want. [But] Here is criminal contempt of court upon which notices are taken worldwide, and we too will take notice on it,” the IHC chief justice remarked.
“With such contempt of court, it is feared that people will lose confidence in the courts,” he added. “Justice Babar Sattar dismissed a contempt petition against Fawad Chaudhry.
That is more serious contempt of court than the Nihal Hashmi case, but we will not take notice on that. Do you know what did he say? What things have been brought on the record?” the IHC chief justice questioned Hamid Khan.
“Yes, I am aware of that,” Hamid Khan replied. “He said they will bring people outside the high court. He is threatening,” Justice Athar Minallah remarked.
Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf also argued before the court and said, “They want the Supreme Court to pardon them every time the way it had pardoned them once. There is no affidavit with Imran Khan’s reply. Imran Khan should have responded to the show cause notice with an affidavit.”
He added, “The Supreme Court had taken notice when Imran Khan used the word “shameful”. Imran Khan had apologised to the Supreme Court eight years ago. Even at that time, I heard the same statement of Imran Khan.”
He remarked, “If Imran Khan did not say insulting words, he would not be standing here today.” Earlier in the day, Imran Khan submitted a miscellaneous application in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) asking it to allow him file written arguments in contempt of court case.
The new application was submitted on Thursday, hours before the IHC was due to take up the contempt case. In the new application, Imran Khan has maintained that the high court does not have suo motu authority and it cannot exercise this jurisdiction as per the Constitution.
The PTI chief urged the court to keep the arguments on record if the contempt of court case is inadmissible. The petition also states that the written arguments in the hearing will also be explained during court proceedings.
The five-member IHC bench is headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah and comprises Just­ice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri and Justice Babar Sattar.
It should be noted that the contempt of court case against Imran Khan was in connection with threatening a female judge.
Imran Khan had submitted a 19-page written supplementary reply in response to the show-cause notice in the Islamabad High Court the other day. In this response, he once again refrained from apologizing unconditionally to the lady judge.
Imran Khan, however, expressed his regret over the words spoken about female judge Zeba Chaudhry and said that he deeply regretted the words that came out of his mouth unintentionally.
Hundreds of security personnel were deployed at the Islamabad High Court Thursday hours before PTI chief Imran Khan was set to appear before the court. PTI leaders have arrived at the court but security officials have stopped Fawad Chaudhry, Shehzad Waseem and others whose names were not found on the list provided by the Registrar Office.
Earlier, security officials installed barbed wires and barred people without passes from entering the court premises. Those who have to appear before the court in different cases were allowed in only after undergoing strict checking. =DNA