Imran Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), appeared before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday as a result of contempt charges brought against him for his divisive comments about district and sessions judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had authorized his chief of staff Shahbaz Gill’s physical remand in a sedition case.
At the most recent session, during which the IHC also served the former prime minister with a show-cause notice, the court issued a personal summons to him.
Today’s hearing was conducted by a five-judge panel made up of IHC Chief Justice (CJ) Athar Minallah, Justices Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, and Justice Babar Sattar.
Islamabad police claimed before the hearing that a “special security plan” had been created for the court in advance of the hearing.
The capital police tweeted on Tuesday that “alternative routes have been prepared for residents of the neighborhood” and that “Only persons with permission from the IHC will be permitted on the court’s premises.”
— Islamabad Police (@ICT_Police) August 30, 2022
PTI leader Babar Awan and his son were asked to leave the courtroom before the hearing because their names were not on the list of authorized visitors, according to the Dawn.com correspondent at the IHC.
IHC CJ mentioned a reply Imran had provided to the court the day before, stating that he had not anticipated the “reply that was read out” when the proceedings got underway.
He said, “Hamid Khan, you are not merely Imran Khan’s counsel; you are also a court assistant.
It was anticipated that you would have gone to a lower court prior to getting here.
Imran’s response pained Justice Minallah, who noted that the lower court mentioned therein was “the court of the common man.”
He continued, “The common man still has no access to the Supreme Court or the high court.”
“Time that has passed and words that have been said cannot be taken back,” the IHC CJ continued.
He claimed he had anticipated Imran’s response would include an admission of error. “I was expecting you to go to the courts and say that you believe them (the courts),” he said, expressing disappointment with Imran’s thorough response.
Justice Minallah continued by stating that concerns had been made regarding a lower court that was accessible to the general public. He claimed that throughout the previous three years, the IHC had brought up the subject of torture.
“Torture cannot be allowed at any level,” Justice Minallah said. “Is there a bigger [form of] torture than making a person disappear?”
Justice Aamer Farooq decided to start Imran’s contempt case while debating a plea that questioned Gill’s police remand.
In order to begin the proceedings, the IHC then assembled a three-person bench, led by Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and also including Justices Babar Sattar and Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb.
The court had stated that it would be necessary to convene an even larger bench to hear the issue “to establish how public interest in freedom of speech is to upheld and balanced” at the previous hearing on August 23.
The initial three members of the court issued an order that read, “For this purpose, orders shall be obtained from the Hon’ble Chief Justice.”
Imran had also received a personal summons from the court and a show-cause notice.
Imran Khan is ready to ‘take back words’
The PTI leader submitted his response to the IHC yesterday, in which he stated his willingness to “take back” his comments about Judge Chaudhry if they were “regarded as inappropriate.” He also pleaded with the IHC to consider removing the judges who agreed to start the case against him from the bench because, in his opinion, they had pre-judged the situation.
He urged the IHC to dismiss the show-cause notice that had been issued to him and to settle the contempt matter in his response, which was delivered through counsels Hamid Khan and Barrister Salman Safdar.
Additionally, he requested that the court consider the speech’s content in light of his “bona fide” aim.
The response clarified that Imran had believed judge Chaudhry to be an executive magistrate carrying out executive or administrative duties under the direction of the federal government.
The PTI leader claimed that Gill’s fundamental rights were being “bent upon tormented and violated” by the government, and that “it was under this mistake that she was referred to as magistrate.”
The PTI leader insisted that neither he nor his comments intended to jeopardize the legal system or intimidate the judge.
The response argued that the respondent did not act in contempt and that the deputy registrar cherry-picked phrases from his address on August 20.
In order to generate the appearance that the respondent (Imran) planned to take the law into his own hands, these comments were completely ripped out of context and spread across print and electronic media.
The PTI leader said that newspaper cuttings that were negative toward him were the grounds for the contempt proceedings.