The Islamabad High Court on Friday sought contempt proceedings against PML-N leaders – Maryam Nawaz and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi – for “defaming” former Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar and subjecting him to “character assassination”. The petition was dismissed as inadmissible.
Abbasi had on November 15 demanded that Nisar be booked after former Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Justice Rana Shamim accused him of involvement in the denial of bail to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Maryam ahead of the 2018 general elections. Self cognizance should be taken. ,
“If Mian Nawaz Sharif can go to jail, why not Mian Saqib Nisar?” Abbasi had said in a statement after the news of the allegation made by Shamim.
This comment of Abbasi came after one investigation report, published in News A purported affidavit by journalist Ansar Abbasi, quoting the former top judge of GB, said that he had seen Nisar instructing a High Court judge not to release Nawaz and Maryam in the corruption reference against him.
Dismissing the petition filed by advocate Kulsoom Khaliq, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, in his written order, said that a judge who does not hold a judicial position, “acquires the status of a private citizen”.
Justice Minallah wrote, “Such a person is not a member of the ‘Court’ in terms of Article 204 of the Constitution nor the Ordinance of 2003.”
He further said that as a private citizen, “it remains open for a retired judicial officer to seek the remedies available in court. However, The offense of contempt is not attracted in the case of a retired judge as the latter acquires the status of a private citizen after retirement.,
The court said that the judges were “entrusted with a difficult duty to serve the people through the fountain of justice and they are Not untouched by public scrutiny nor criticism,
“An independent judge would not be influenced or influenced in any other way by public criticism,” he continued.
The Chief Justice of the IHC explained that the exercise of contempt power would be justified only if it is in the public interest.
“In the case, the petitioner appears to be hurt as a former Chief Justice of Pakistan has been publicly criticized in his personal capacity. This certainly does not attract the offense of contempt,” the order said.
Earlier during the hearing, Justice Minallah observed that the remarks about retired officers do not warrant contempt of court charges, even if they are made against a former Chief Justice.
He insisted that the judges were open-minded about criticism, adding, “Judges hold a very high position and should welcome criticism.”
The petitioner, Khaleque drew the attention of the Chief Justice to another case against Ansar Abbasi and others on the inquiry report pending with the IHC.
However, Justice Minallah observed that this is a separate matter and should not be linked to the present case.