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July 12, 2018

Supreme Court reserves verdict in Talal Chaudhry contempt case


July 12, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court reserved judgment in the contempt of court case against former state minister for interior Talal Chaudhry after his counsel concluded his arguments Wednesday.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed reserved the judgment with the ruling that the date for pronouncement of the verdict will be given later. However, the court directed that the alleged contemnor Talal Chaudhry must ensure his presence on the day of the announcement of the verdict.

Commencing his arguments, defence counsel Kamran Murtaza contended that the chief justice was not legally authorised to take suo motu case of what it called contemptuous speeches made by Talal Chaudhry former minister of state for interior affairs.

He argued that instead of exercising judicial powers, the chief justice exercised administrative power while acting upon the advice of the Registrar of the apex court and took suo motu.

“The chief justice should have sent the matter to a bench of the apex court for examining the matter and later on the said bench could have better decide further action in this regard,” Kamran Murtaza submitted.

The learned counsel for defence argued that the instant contempt proceeding against his client Talal Chaudhry was not properly initiated in view of Article 204 of the Constitution. Elaborating his point, Kamran Murtaza contended that it is the prerogative of the court to decide that whether any action in term of Article 204 of the Constitution read with the relevant provision of Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 is to be initiated or otherwise.

“As per records, the court has not decided that any suo motu action against the alleged contemnor as such there is jurisdictional defect in the proceedings,” the defence counsel contended, adding that even this view was taken by one of the judges of the apex court Justice Qazi Faiz Isa while sitting in a bench at Peshawar Registry and he had also given a separate note in this regard.

The counsel pleaded the court to show restrain in this matter as he said his client has not made any contempt. He cited various judgments where the apex court had shown restrain and recalled that the apex court in cases of PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri had shown restrain while withdrawing show cause notices against them.

He submitted that Imran Khan had used derogatory words for the court while Dr Tahirul Qadri also gave remarks about a judge after concluding his case but the court showed restrain in their cases.

“Even Imran Khan did not tender unconditional apology before the court and neither the court sought apology from him but discharged show cause notice against him,” he contended, adding that contempt notice was also withdrawn against the PML-N leader Saad Rafique after showing restrain in the case against him. Like Saad Rafique and Imran Khan, my client too was a MNA hence he should also be given the favour as given to them.

“I am seeking benefit of Article 19 of the Constitution as well as Article 66 dealing with the freedom of speech as well as privilege of the parliamentarians,” he argued.

“Article 19 of the Constitution does not mean that whatever a person wants to say he should be allowed to speak”, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, another member of the bench observed. Similarly, Kamran Murtaza recalled that in 1978, ANP leader later Khan Abdul Wali Khan while addressing the Rawalpindi Bar also made contemptuous speech however, the court while taking up his matter also showed restrain in his matter. Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that the alleged contemnor has not tender apology but opted for contesting the case.

Aamir Rehman, Additional Attorney General and prosecutor in the instant case in his rebuttal submitted before the court that the alleged contemnor called the judges of the apex court as PCO idols and his video clip was played in the open court.

The prosecutor further submitted that the alleged contemnor never confronted the documents produced before the court and not tendered apology at any stage but opted for contesting the case as well.

Meanwhile, the court after hearing the defence and prosecution reserved the judgment with the ruling that date for the verdict will be announced later on. However, it directed Talal Chaudhry to appear in person on the date of announcement of the verdict.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had taken suo motu notice of what he called contemptuous speeches made by former minister Talal Chaudhry.

The chief justice while taking suo motu notice and sending notice to Talal Chaudhry had stated that he had made derogatory and contemptuous speeches/statements at public gathering telecast by different TV channels which prima facie constitutes interference with the obstruction of the process of the court as well as aimed at belittling the stature of this apex court within the contemplation of Article 204 of the Constitution read with Section 3 of the contempt of court Ordinance 2003.

On March 15, SC indicted Talal Chaudhry for allegedly committing contempt of court. The bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan gave a charge sheet to Chaudhry, who denied the contempt allegations and pleaded not guilty. On May 23, the court declined Talal Chaudhry’s request seeking time to produce more witnesses in hearing of contempt case against him.

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