ISLAMABAD    -   The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednes­day expressed its dis­appointment over the written reply submit­ted by Chairman Pa­kistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan in re­sponse to a show-cause notice issued to him for threatening an addi­tional sessions judge of Islamabad.

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 conducted hearing of the contempt case against Imran and gave him another chance to submit his reply within one week. In response to a show-cause notice dated 25.08.2022, Imran Khan yesterday appeared before the court along with his coun­sel and the attention of the court was drawn to the provisional reply to the said notice.

In the reply, Khan prayed to the court that the said notice be discharged and it was also pleaded that a supplementary reply would be filed. However, the IHC bench noted in its written order, “We are not inclined to dis­charge the said notice having found the re­ply to be unsatisfactory bearing in mind, in­ter-alia, the law laid in the cases reported as “Suo Motu Contempt Proceedings” [PLD 2018 SC 773], “Suo Motu Contempt Proceed­ings” [PLD 2018 SC 738] and “The State v. Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan [2020 PLD 109 Islam­abad].” At this, the counsel for the PTI Chair­man sought further time to file a supplemen­tary reply to the show cause notice as pleaded in the provisional reply. For this purpose, he has sought a period of one week.

With the consent of the parties, the court also appointed Pakistan Bar Council, Munir A Malik senior ASC and Makhdoom Ali Khan senior ASC as amici curiae in the case to as­sist the bench. Later, the bench deferred the hearing till September 8 for further proceed­ings in this matter. During the hearing, the IHC Chief Justice said that they have read the written response and added that they did not expect what was stated about the lower court judges. Expressing his dismay over the reply, he said that he was expecting that the mis­take made would have been admitted.

Addressing Imran’s lawyer, he said that you are not just Imran Khan’s counsel but also an aide to the court. He added that it was expect­ed that you would have visited a subordinate court before coming here.

The IHC Chief Justice remarked that he was saddened by Imran’s reply and the subordi­nate court referred to therein was the court of the common man. He further said that time that has passed and words that have been said cannot be taken back.

Justice Athar said that he was expecting that Imran would admit of making a mistake in his reply. The judge said that he was ex­pecting that you would go to the courts and say that you trust them (the courts).

The IHC judge further said that the courts have taken up sensitive matters including torture and enforced disappearances. He re­marked that torture cannot be allowed at any level. He asked that is there a greater [form of] torture than making a person disappear?

He also mentioned that Imran questioned why the court was opened at midnight refer­ring to the opening of IHC at midnight of April 9 the day Imran lost the no-confidence vote and said that it was a “clear message” that the events of October 12, 1999 the day former president General Pervez Musharraf imposed martial law, would not be repeated.

The judge further said that Imran Khan asked why the court opened at midnight. He said this court is open round the clock for any weak [person] or a constitutional matter.

He said that a political leader had a high stature and every moment was important for them. Justice Athar asserted that no one could influence a judge. He admitted that their institution has committed several mis­takes and welcomed criticism over it. He fur­ther said that but when photos of judges are posted on social media and accusations are levelled against them, none of the political parties stops its supporters from doing so.

He continued that this court has to uphold civilian supremacy. These [lower court] judg­es are more important than the Supreme Court and high courts. He also remarked that change will come when the constitution will be supreme and civilian supremacy will be upheld. Advocate General Islamabad (AGI) Ja­hangir Jadoon began to argue that PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry had also given statements against the court. However, Imran’s lawyer, distanced himself from Fawad’s comments.

But the court restrained the AG Islamabad from speaking and maintained that the mat­ter is between the court and the one against who is the alleged contemnor.