Contempt of court case: Islamabad High Court to indict Imran Khan on Sept 22

Says PTI chief's reply was not satisfactory
  • Imran Khan to be indicted on September 22. -Imran Khan’s reply could not satisfy the court

  • Projector and screen installed in courtroom No. 1

  • Two SSPs are among 778 police personnel deployed at the court

  • Imran Khan submitted a fresh reply on Wednesday, expressing ‘deep regret’ over his words

  • The former prime minister stopped short of offering an unconditional apolgoy

  • Amicus curie requests court to quash the charges

A five-member larger bench of Islamabad High Court – under Justice Athar Minallah – decided to indict Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chairman and former PM Imran Khan for contempt of court case.

The court said that it did not find the reply submitted by the former prime minister satisfactory.

The contempt of court proceedings will take place on September 22.

Before the hearing opened, the court staff installed a projector and a screen in courtroom No. 1 on the instruction of the judges.

At the beginning of the hearing, IHC Chief Justice Minallah said that Imran Khan faces the charge of criminal contempt of court which is a more serious offense than other types of contempt of court.

Imran Khan’s counsel Hamid Khan pleaded with the court that the case be dismissed.

Referring to Imran Khan’s second reply submitted to the court on Wednesday, Hamid Khan said that he had explained how the case against Imran Khan was different from those against PMLN leaders Tallal Chaudhry and Daniyal Aziz.

Justice Minallah said that the court referred to the cases of PMLN leaders to elaborate that there are different types of contempt.

He said that the court had gone through the reply submitted by the PTI chief.

The proceedings against Imran Khan were not initiated on the basis of scandalization of the judiciary, the justice said adding the nature of criminal contempt of court is slightly different.

“We explained to you that this was a matter of criminal contempt of court,” said Justice Minallah.

Imran Khan in his reply has said that the PMLN leaders were involved in scandalizing the judiciary.

“Criminal contempt of court is very serious and you cannot justify it,” Justice Minallah said adding that in criminal contempt cases one cannot say that this was not one’s intention.

The top judge of the Islamabad High Court questioned whether a former prime minister can claim that he was not aware of the law.

Justice Minallah said that in his reply Imran Khan had tried to justify his action.

He asked Hamid Khan if Imran Khan wanted a trial in the contempt case.

When Hamid Khan claimed that there was no mention of ‘criminal contempt of court’ in the case against Imran Khan, Justice Babar Sattar told him to read the show-cause notice served on Imran Khan last month.

You are responding to the show cause notice, Justice Sattar said.

Justice Minallah said that even after the submission of the fresh reply from Imran Khan the impression remains there that the woman judge [Zeba Chaudhry] was unsafe.

Tomorrow, she may stop at the motorway and some damage may be done. Someone would be abusing her, the bench said.

Justice Babar Sattar questioned how a political leader could issue threats while standing among the people.

He said that the law provided for legal actions and a public meeting was not a forum for legal action.

Hamid Khan said that while the court believed that the woman judge was at risk, he assured the court that the judge will not face any threat.

Justice Minallah said that the court can play Imran Khan’s statement on the screen installed in the courtroom.

Justice Sattar said that Imran Khan justified his controversial speech at the Islamabad rally in another speech he delivered later.

Imran Khan is constantly trying to justify what he said, observed Justice Sattar.

The justice said that Imran Khan’s reply leaves the impression that he was demanding a trial in the contempt case and wanted to prove his stance.

At this, Imran Khan conveyed a message through Advocate Shoaib Shaheen to Hamid Khan, who in turn told the court that the PTI chief wanted to reach the rostrum to explain the contents of his speech delivered on the day before yesterday (Tuesday).

Hamid Khan said that Imran Khan believes that the said speech was misreported.

Justice Minallah said that the court can play that speech on the screen.

The bench came down hard on Imran Khan for threatening a judge of the lower judiciary.

Justice Sattar asked if Imran Khan could rise and issue a threat to this court right now that he will take action against it.

“This is exactly what he said about a woman judge of the lower court,” he said.

Hamid Khan said that Imran Khan was trying to offer an explanation and not justifying his actions.

Justice Minallah said, “Tell me what had happened in Madina Munawwara?”

“What happened in Madina Munawwara was the result of incitement.”

“We are repeatedly trying to explain to you that this is a very serious matter,” he said.

Imran Khan, meanwhile, again told Advocate Shaheen that he wanted to approach the rostrum.

Justice Minallah said that a political leader carries a heavy burden on his shoulders and must carefully choose his words.

He said we should learn from the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s life and the conquest of Makkah.

The kind of language was used about a district judge was highly inappropriate, he said.

Hamid Khan said that political leaders speak at rallies in a certain [charged] environment and Imran Khan was speaking about the torture inflicted upon his chief of staff.

Justice Tariq Jehangiri said, “Did you tell Imran Khan that five medical boards were constituted for Shahbaz Gill and none of them said that he was subjected to torture?”

Advocate Shaheen said that a medical report issued by Adiala prison authorities confirmed the torture.

Justice Minallah said then the court can read from the order of the then-acting chief justice.

However, the justice then added that it was better if the court did not take up that issue.

Hamid Khan said that he and his client wanted the court to dispose of the matter.

When Hamid Khan repeatedly referred to the contempt cases against another political leader, Justice Minallah said that the case against Imran Khan was not about mere contempt of court.

“Hamid Khan sahib we have not made a case against you about sacandalizing the judicary.”

The court said that if the PTI chief had criticized a judge of the higher judiciary there would have been no contempt case, but this was a matter about the lower judiciary and a criminal case.

Hamid Khan concluded his arguments by saying that Imran Khan cannot even think of disrespecting the judiciary and had repeatedly expressed regret in his reply. Therefore, the court should show benevolence and dispose of the case like the Supreme Court of Pakistan did in the cases against other leaders, he said.

Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf started his arguments.

Supreme Court forgave him once and they think that they can repeat it and they’ll be forgiven every time, he said.

This time, Imran Khan was served show-cause notice, said attorney general. The reply for the show-cause should have come with an affidavit, he said.

There’s no affidavit with the reply, the attorney general said.

Ashtar Ausaf said that he has the transcript of Imran Khan’s speech, adding that he also have the recording of the speech Imran Khan made on Tuesday.

Imran Khan again made a reference about the female judge, said Ausaf, adding that he will put the transcript and CD [of the speech] on record.

The court calls amicus curiae Munir A Malik on the rostrum.

Munir A Malik requested the court to quash contempt of court proceedings against Imran Khan.

Imran Khan has said that he will be careful in the future, he said. The PTI chief has said that he was not aware that the matter was sub-judice, Malik said.

Imran Khan has said that he will be careful in the future, he said. The PTI chief has said that he was not aware that the matter was sub-judice, Malik said.

Considering this, end the contempt of court proceedings, Malik requested saying that it’s not pleasant for the court to convict someone for the contempt.

Makhdom Ali Khan, the other amicus curie, started his arguments. If delivering justice is public interest, so is freedom of speech, he said

In the US, the president called the court’s decision “worst”, Makhdom said. However, the court showed grace and took another way.

It was the US, where Trump’s twitter account was suspended, Chief Justice remarked.

There are precedences of the Supreme Court’s verdicts in the cases of Daniyal Aziz, Nihal Hashmi and Talal Chaudhry, the court said.

We have if a leader is being cornered, said Makhdom.

Does the court want to convey the message that it is among those who are trying to corner them, the amicus curie asked.

Do you want us to accept his clarification and go? the court asked.

Makhdom said the court can give Imran one last chance.

Firdous Ashiq Awan was given the warning despite the Supreme Court’s decision, the amicus curie said.

Does anyone’s ego matters more than the court’s sanctity, Justice Minallah said.

Imran Khan stood from his seat and asked if he can come to the rostrum to present his stance.

We have heard the arguments of all the lawyers in the case, Chief Justice replied.

There was no mention of unconditional apology, he said.

The court adjourned the hearing for 5 minutes.

The court resumed the hearing.

The Islamabad High Court has decided to indict PTI chief Imran Khan for the contempt of court.

The court did not find Imran Khan’s reply satisfactory. The indictment proceedings will take place on September 22.

‘More dangerous if sent to jail’

Imran Khan arrived at the Islamabad High Court shortly before the hearing started amid tight security. Hundreds of security personnel have been deployed at the court since Thursday noon.

Before Imran Khan left his Bani Gala residence, several PTI leaders arrived at the court, but security officials stopped Fawad Chaudhry, Shehazad Waseem and others whose names were not found on the list provided by the Registrar’s Office.

Speaking to reporters, Imran Khan expressed displeasure over the heavy deployment, saying that there are so many security personnel as if Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav was going to appear before the court.

He also said that he would become ‘more dangerous’ if sent to jail.

Imran Khan then refused to speak more saying that his comments may be misconstrued by the court.

He said he will speak to reporters after the hearing.

The former cricketer also said that he did not watch yesterday’s match between Pakistan and Afghanistan cricket teams.

Security beefed up

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.

Two senior superintendents of police (SSPs) are among 778 police personnel deployed at the court, which is also being monitored by Safe City cameras.

Read: Vandalism case: Islamabad court extends Imran Khan’s interim bail

Imran Khan’s fresh reply

On Wednesday, Imran Khan submitted his fresh reply to the court expressing “deep regret” over his comments against woman judge Zeba Chaudhry.

However, the former prime minister stopped short of offering an unconditional apology.

In his reply, Imran Khan

  • expressed ‘deep regret’ over his ‘unintentional utterance’ against Islamabad Additional Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry

  • offered to express ‘remorse’ to the woman judge if her “feelings were hurt”

  • urged the court to discharge him from the case under the Islamic principles of forgiveness and restraint

  • thanked the court for giving him the opportunity to submit a revised reply


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