ISLAMABAD: Former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Shamim on Tuesday told the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that the affidavit he had recorded before a UK magistrate was a sealed document, not meant to be viewed by the general public.
Shahmim's remarks came during the hearing of a case pertaining to a leaked audio tape allegedly involving former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar. A couple of weeks earlier, Shamim had alleged in a notarised affidavit that the then CJP had directed a high court judge to not release Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on bail at any cost before the 2018 general elections. The allegations were published in a report in The News following which the IHC directed the ex-judge to submit his response.
The former GB chief told the court he does not know which affidavit was reported by the media.
During today’s hearing, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who was leading the proceedings, said the judiciary's freedom was dependent on the freedom of the press. "However, there are some responsibilities that come with the freedom of the press," he noted.
The IHC chief justice then summoned Shamim to the rostrum and asked whether he had submitted a written response to the court regarding the case.
"My lawyer will tell you why I did not submit a written response," replied Shamim. "My brother's chehlum will be held in a few days. Please hold a hearing after that," he requested.
Justice Minallah told Shamim that he submitted an affidavit over an incident that allegedly occurred three years ago. "A newspaper carried the details of the affidavit for the public [to read]," noted the IHC CJ.
"I was contacted after my affidavit was published. I confirmed it," responded the former judge. "The affidavit was sealed, I don't know how it got leaked," he added.
"Did you not provide the affidavit to him [the reporter]?" asked Justice Minallah.
"No, I did not submit the affidavit for publication," replied the ex-judge.
Justice Minallah asked Shamim why he submitted the affidavit in London. "The court is granting you five days to submit your written response. You will have to tell us why you submitted an affidavit after a gap of three years," said Justice Minallah.
The IHC chief justice told Shamim that he "tried to shake the public's confidence in the judiciary", instructing the former judge to say whatever he wanted to in the written response.
"My brother and sister-in-law's chehlum will be held on December 5 and 12 respectively," Shamim told the IHC chief justice. "Please hold the hearing after that," he requested once more.
He said that if a hearing is held any sooner than that, then he will be unable to obtain the original affidavit.
Meanwhile, Attorney-General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan said that the court can direct Shamim to procure the affidavit through the embassy.
The attorney-general requested the court to delay action against the media, saying that its role was secondary in this case. He urged the court to direct Shamim to present his written response with the original affidavit in court.
At this, Shamim said he does not know which affidavit was reported by the media. "Let me have a look at the affidavit that was published first," he said.
At this, the attorney-general responded by saying: "The person who submitted the affidavit is unaware of its contents."
"If he does not know, then who prepared the affidavit?"
"This should be on record, that he [Rana Shamim] does not know what is written in the affidavit," stated the attorney-general. "The affidavit was submitted on November 10 and today, he says he does not know what is written in it."
"I do not believe in contempt of court," stressed Justice Minallah. "Judges should face criticism. However, please refrain from maligning this high court for the sake of political narratives," he added.
The IHC chief justice adjourned proceedings till December 7, directing Shamim to submit his written response with the original affidavit at the next hearing.
Justice Minallah asked the former judge to also submit a written response to the show-cause notice sent to him by the high court.
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