Court in its written order says PTI chief made remarks to undermine credibility of judicial system n Summons Imran on August 30 in personal capacity.

ISLAMABAD   -   In its written order in the contempt of court proceedings initiated against PTI chief Im­ran Khan for his de­rogatory statement against Additional Ses­sions Judge, Islamabad, Zeba Chaudhry, at a ral­ly in F-9 Park of the fed­eral capital, the Islam­abad High Court (IHC) Tuesday said that in the said speech, “prima fa­cie contemptuous and intimidating statements were made against” the said judge.

A three-member larger bench of the IHC headed by Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and comprising Justice Miangul Hassan Aurang­zeb and Justice Babar Sattar issued the writ­ten order in its contempt proceedings initiated against Imran after he uttered controversial re­marks about Addition­al District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had approved the remand of his (Imran) chief of staff Shahbaz Gill in a sedition case.

The bench stated that these remarks have also been made with the motive of undermining the integrity and credi­bility of the judicial sys­tem in the eyes of pub­lic at large.

It added that they are of the prima facie view that the statements have been made by the respondent to obstruct the course of justice and due process and erode pub­lic confidence in the courts of law and, therefore, come within the ambit of contempt of Court.

It added, “We, therefore, deem it necessary to issue notice in terms of Section 17 of the Con­tempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, to the respondent, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, to tender appearance before this Court on 31.08.2022 and show cause as to why proceedings for con­tempt of court should not be ini­tiated against him.”

The bench directed that the office shall serve the respon­dent Imran Ahmed Khan Nia­zi with this notice through the concerned SHO and shall also issue notice to Chairman PEM­RA to submit the complete tran­script of the speech delivered by the respondent at F-9 Park in a public rally.

“We are cognizant that the power of contempt must always be exercised with great reluc­tance and never to shield judi­cial verdicts from bonafide pub­lic criticism or to protect the feelings of an individual. But at stake here is public faith in the administration of justice, the rights of citizens to access jus­tice and to be afforded due pro­cess of law by a justice system not susceptible to intimidation, and a system of rule of law that the unruffled by considerations of fear or favour and capable of affording equal protection of law to all citizens, in accordance with the mandate of Article 4 of the Constitution, irrespective of their social and economic class or political affiliation,” main­tained the bench.

It further said that these are all matters of public importance that impinge on the fundamental rights of citizens and are contin­gent on the ability of the State to uphold rule of law through a court system that dispenses justice in­dependently and transparently.

The bench said, “We therefore find that for the consideration and adjudication of these issues, and to determine how public in­terest in freedom of speech is to be upheld and balanced against public interest in an untram­meled course of justice secured by an independent and impartial Court system, it might be appro­priate to constitute an even larg­er bench. For this purpose, or­ders shall be solicited from the Hon’ble Chief Justice.”

It continued that they also deem it appropriate to issue no­tice to the Attorney General for Pakistan to assist this Court in these peculiar circumstances, especially when the prestige of entire judicial system, which is pillar of the State, has been put at stake.

The court mentioned that the Registrar of this Court has sub­mitted a report on 22.08.2022 making a reference to the public speech delivered on 20.08.2022 by the respondent, PTI chief Im­ran Ahmad Khan Niazi at a pub­lic rally at F-9 Park, Islamabad.

It added, “In the said speech prima facie contemptuous and intimidating statements were made against Ms. Zeba Chaud­hary, Additional Sessions Judge, who is working under the ad­ministrative control of Islam­abad High Court, Islamabad.”