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October 10, 2018

Call Nawaz so he could throw judges out of court, CJP to Talal

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October 10, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday rejected an intra-court appeal of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader and former state minister for interior affairs, Talal Chaudhry, against his conviction in a contempt case for making contemptuous speeches last year.

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A five-judge larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard the appeal filed by Talal Chaudhry against his conviction. On Aug 2, a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, had convicted Talal Chaudhry over his contemptuous speeches made in public on Sept 24 and 27, 2017 and punished him with imprisonment till the rising of the court with fine of Rs0.1 million. "For all the above reasons, we are satisfied that the convict committed contempt of court within the meaning of Article 204 of the Constitution, read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 and made himself liable for punishment. Thus he was convicted and sentenced under Sections 3 and 5 of the Ordinance, 2003 and punished with imprisonment till the rising of the court with a fine of Rs100,000,” the court had ruled and disposed of the contempt proceedings. After his conviction, Talal was disqualified to contest elections for five years. Later on, Talal Chaudhry filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against his conviction.

During Tuesday's hearing Kamran Murtaza, counsel for Talal Chaudhry, repeatedly tendered apology on behalf of his client, pleading with the court to show leniency. He contended that the stigma of contempt would remain on his client forever; hence the court should pardon him. "It is a matter of the child's political career,” Kamran pleaded. However, the CJP asked the counsel if his client was "still a child". The court asked Kamran Murtaza to justify his stance as to how the contempt will affect Talal’s political career. The counsel replied that his client will not be able to contest the polls for the next five years, to which the chief justice said that as a punishment he should not contest for five years.

The CJP observed that the court is not denying the right of speech, but what Talal said was way beyond of the right of speech. Justice Ijazul Ahsen, another member of the bench, observed that though Article 19 of the Constitution is related to freedom of speech, but it also talks about contempt. After reading out the Article 19, Justice Ijazul Ahsen asked Kamran Murtaza that he had no defence of the said article, adding that Talal has not issued an apology to-date as well. “Everything has its consequence and politicians must know well that what they say will have consequences,” Justice Ahsen added. The CJP also questioned as to why the office of attorney general did not file a request for enhancing the sentence of the contemnor.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen, however, told the counsel that the court had avoided giving punishment of three, four or six months imprisonment, and punished the contemnor till the rising of the court. “How much further leniency could we show,” Justice Ahsen questioned. The chief justice asked Kamran Murtaza as to who was he calling PCO’s (Provisional Constitutional Order) idol? “Is he an idol destroyer? Are we doing injustice over here?" the chief justice asked the lawyer.

The CJP recalled that Talal kept on addressing former premier Nawaz Sharif in his speech and even he did not stop him from the contempt of court. The CJP, while admonishing Talal, said: “Should I summon Mian Sahib whom you kept addressing in your speech. Call Mian Sahib, so he can throw out the PCO judges. Can he throw us? "Which idol had you talked about throwing out of court?” the CJP further questioned.

Talal Chaudhry, however, replied they use the term PCO (Provisional Constitutional Order) symbolically. To this, Justice Ijazul Ahsen remarked, “You are not ready to issue an apology even today.” The CJP noted that Talal Chaudhry labelled them as infidels, saying they were idols and to throw them out of the court. “Can the court be further scandalised?" Justice Nisar continued. Justice Umer Ata Bandyal, another member of the bench, observed that the contemnor insulted an institution, not a person and did so with arrogance. “Had he shown remorse and tendered an apology, the CJP would have definitely shown leniency,” Justice Bandyal remarked, adding “Idols in Ka’aba comment was very harsh.”

Meanwhile, Talal Chaudhry came to the rostrum and pleaded that he had expressed remorse during several talk shows. The CJ, however, told Talal that he had justified his speech in the talk shows “and we will call for the record of the talk shows." The chief justice asked Chaudhry to submit an affidavit that he will not contest elections in the next five years; however, his counsel pleaded against it.

Kamran Murtaza said the speech was aired out of context. Justice Nisar then said that records of his speech can be summoned from all channels. For satisfaction of the counsel, the video clip of Talal’s speech was played once again in the court after which Justice Nisar asked Murtaza, "Tell us where the editing was done." Kamran Murtaza also cited various cases of contempt including Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Imran Khan, Mirza Aslam Beg and Riaz Hanif Rahi, etc, adding the court had shown restraint; therefore, his client should also be pardoned. The counsel further said that Imran Khan had also used harsh words. The CJP then pointed out that in the Wali Khan case, Wali Khan had apologised for his words, adding that at one point he had also expressed his regrets as well. Later, the court dismissed the intra-court appeal of Talal Chaudhry.

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