The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to PTI chief Imran Khan and summoned him in his personal capacity on August 31 in contempt proceedings against him for his controversial remarks about additional district and sessions judge Zeba Chaudhry, who approved the remand of his chief of staff Shahbaz Gill in a sedition case.
The notice was issued by a three-member bench, headed by Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and also comprising Justice Babar Sattar and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb.
The IHC had constituted the bench on Monday, after the decision to start contempt proceedings against the PTI chief was taken by Acting IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq during the hearing of a petition challenging Gill’s police remand.
In its written order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the IHC observed that Imran’s remarks has been made with the motive of “undermining the integrity and credibility of the judicial system in the eyes of public at large”.
It said that a notice has also been issued to the chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to submit the complete transcript of the speech delivered by the PTI chief at F-9 Park in a public rally.
“We also deem it appropriate to issue notice to the learned 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,” it said.
The court observed that it would be appropriate to constitute an even larger bench to hear the case “to determine how public interest in freedom of speech is to upheld and balanced”.
“For this purpose, orders shall be solicited from the Hon’ble Chief Justice,” the court order added.
During today’s hearing, Islamabad Advocate General Jahangir Khan Jadoon informed the court that he had filed a miscellaneous application seeking permission to put Imran’s controversial statements against state institutions on record.
The court asked him when Imran made the “objectionable remarks”, to which Jadoon responded that the PTI chief had made the comments during a rally in Islamabad’s F-9 park on Saturday.
“Imran Khan said, ‘Zeba sahiba, you should be ashamed, we will take action against you too’,” the advocate general quoted the ex-prime minister as saying.
He said that Imran was repeatedly making controversial statements about the judiciary and the Election Commission of Pakistan, and was obstructing justice.
When asked which case the remarks were linked to, Jadoon said they were in connection with a case registered against Gill.
“Imran Khan is constantly making statements against institutions. Any party should now be restrained from making statements against institutions. Imran Khan tried to destroy the public’s trust in the judiciary,” the advocate general argued.
At one point, Justice Kayani questioned how someone could pass remarks in a case that was under adjudication. Then, addressing the advocate general, he added: “This matter does not concern you. It is between the court and Imran Khan.”
“An attempt was made to disrespect our judiciary. If this environment has to be created then no work will get done in the country. How will things run if courts, which are the hope of the people, abandon their work?” Justice Kayani said.
He further remarked, “If a court’s decision is not in favour of anyone, will they start giving statements against the court? Do they want people to do justice as they deem fit?”
The judge questioned how a former prime minister could issue such statements. He regretted that a controversial statement was made regarding a female judge and that she was named.
The court then asked the advocate general whether Imran should be issued a notice or a show-cause notice. The advocate general replied that prime facie, a show-cause notice should be issued.
During the hearing, Justice Kayani said that some people thought they could get away with saying whatever they want. He questioned how the country could run if state institutions stopped functioning.
“Certain people have crippled the state,” he remarked.
Subsequently, the court issued Imran a show-cause notice and sent the case to Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial for the constitution of bench comprising more than three judges.
Earlier today, Islamabad Advocate General Jahangir Jadoon sought the court’s permission to put on record Imran’s statements allegedly against the judiciary and other institutions in court.
In his application, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Jadoon said he wanted to place relevant material “like videos, clips and previous statements of the respondents (Imran) on electronic and digital media on record, which are helpful” for the case.
The Islamabad advocate general said he wanted to seek permission to “display different statement of the respondents on different occasion against the judiciary and other institution (sic) .
“In these circumstances, it is humbly prayed that [the court] allow to display the aforementioned material in this honourable court via USB or other digital gadgets, and consider this material as part of the case,” he said in his application.
The advocate general has filed the application on the state’s behalf.
Imran, who has alleged that Gill has been subjected to “sexual abuse” and “physical and mental torture” in custody, had lambasted police over the accusation and judge Chaudhry for allowing Gill’s remand at a rally in Islamabad on Saturday.
He had threatened to file cases against Islamabad’s inspector general of police and deputy inspector general of police and declared: “We won’t spare you.” He had then warned the judiciary against its “biased” attitude towards his party, saying that it should brace itself for the consequences.
The PTI chairperson had warned judge Chaudhry that she would also face dire consequences.
Subsequently, he was booked under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (punishment for acts of terrorism).
He has been granted protective bail by the IHC in the case till Thursday.