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Monday May 27, 2024

Contempt of court: Nehal to jail, Talal summoned

The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday sentenced and disqualified Pakistan Muslim League-N Senator Nehal Hashmi for five years for ridiculing and threatening judges and the joint investigation team (JIT) members in the Panama Papers case.

By our correspondents
February 02, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday sentenced and disqualified Pakistan Muslim League-N Senator Nehal Hashmi for five years for ridiculing and threatening judges and the joint investigation team (JIT) members in the Panama Papers case.

On the same day, the SC also issued a contempt of court notice to Minister of State for Interior Affairs Talal Chaudhry.

A three-member SC bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, announced the judgment in contempt of court case against Hashmi in the open court.

With consensus of two members of the bench and with one member (Justice Dost Muhammad Khan) abstaining, Senator Hashmi was awarded 30 days imprisonment with Rs50,000 fine.

He was disqualified from being elected or chosen as a member of parliament for a period of five years from February 1, 2018 under the Article 63(1)(g) of Constitution. Police took him in custody from the Supreme Court premises and took him to Adiala Jail.

The respondent is about sixty years of age, he is a lawyer by profession for the last about 30 years. He had submitted an unconditional apology though belatedly, he had thrown himself at the mercy ofthe court and decided not to contest these proceedings and upon his conviction for the offence of contempt of court, he is to be visited with a disqualification under Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution.

“He is sentenced under Section 5(1) of the said Ordinance to simple imprisonment for one month and a fine of Rs50,000 or in default of payment thereof to undergo simple imprisonment for a further period of 15 days, the court ruled

The verdict further noted that Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, he ipso facto stands disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).

The judgement further held that Nehal Hashmi’s speech on 28-5-2017 established that the PML-N ex-senator is a firebrand speaker and the tone, the pitch and the delivery of the offending words bear an ample testimony to that but unfortunately on that day he had spewed fire towards a wrong direction.

“He attacked the judiciary, the judges and those who were tasked by this court to investigate some allegations of criminal conduct on the part of the respondent’s political leader, his family and others,” says the order of the court.

The court ruled that Hashmi launched a verbal tirade and issued naked threats which he now himself realises to be improper, unwise and imprudent. “The offending words uttered by the respondent (Hashmi) in the relevant speech, were nothing but an effort to obstruct, interfere with and prejudice the proceedings pending before this court and before the Joint Investigation Team working under the direct command and supervision of apex court in Panama Papers case,” says the order.

The court observed that offending words uttered by the respondent in public were meant to interfere with, obstruct and prejudice the process of law, justice and this court and were also intended to bring the authority of this court and administration of law into disrespect, disrepute or hatred under Section 3 of Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 and Article 204 of Constitution.

The verdict further ruled that the manner in which the respondent had acted on the occasion was surely prejudicial to the integrity and independence of the judiciary of Pakistan as a whole as it had defamed and brought it into ridicule.

“While adverting to the provisions of Section 18 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 we have felt satisfied that the contempt committed by the respondent is quite grave and is one which is substantially detrimental to the administration of justice besides tending to bring this court and the judges of this court into disrespect and hatred,” says the verdict.

The court observed that Section 5(2) of the said Ordinance dealing with submission of an apology by a person accused of having committed contempt of court does not envisage an automatic acceptance of the apology but makes its acceptance subject to the court’s satisfaction about its bona fide.

“The apology tendered by the respondent on Jan 24, 2018 itself mentioned that initially he had contested the proceedings and the same is also evident from his reply to the show cause notice dated June 20, 2017, his ‘Further Reply’ dated July 7, 2017 and his ‘Statement’ dated August 16, 2017,” says the verdict

The court held that the belated apology submitted by the respondent after about seven months of commencement of these proceedings and at the fag end of such proceedings when the evidence of the prosecution has already been completely recorded and closed speaks volumes about the apology being an afterthought.

“The conduct of the respondent in this regard impinges upon bona fide of his apology and, thus, the same has not been found to be meriting acceptance,” the verdict noted adding that such apology of the respondent may, however, have some bearing upon the sentence.

The court found him guilty of committing contempt of this court as charged. Meanwhile according to a notification issued by the Public Relations Office of the Supreme Court on Thursday, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar issued contempt notice to Talal Chaudhry over the note of Registrar’s Office.

It was learnt that the Registrar Office gave the chief justice, reference to various speeches made by the state minister in which he insulted the judiciary. Taking notice, the chief justice issued contempt notice to minister of state for interior affairs and directed its office to fix the matter before the court on February 6.