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Contempt of court laws do not protect ex-judges from criticism: IHC

November 27, 2021
Contempt of court laws do not protect ex-judges from criticism: IHC

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court Athar Minallah on Friday rejected a petition filed against the PMLN leaders, declaring it non-maintainable and observed that ‘contempt of court’ laws do not apply on criticism of retired judges, even if they retired as chief justices of the country.

A petition had been moved in the IHC seeking contempt of court proceedings against PMLN Vice President Maryam Nawaz and ex-prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi over their statements related to former chief justice Saqib Nisar, Geo TV reported.

Maryam had held a detailed press conference on Wednesday regarding a recently surfaced audio clip

allegedly featuring the retired chief justice issuing directions to wrongfully convict or detain Maryam and PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif.

Retired chief justice Nisar has already strongly denied that he issued any extra-legal or illegal instructions in any corruption cases against the Sharifs. He has said the audio clip in question has been fabricated and he is contemplating what kind of legal action he will take against it.

After Maryam’s press conference, petitioner Kalsum Khaliq had moved the IHC, arguing that Maryam and Abbasi had tried to scandalise the judiciary through their statements about the retired chief justice. She had asked the court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against both PMLN leaders.

During Friday’s hearing, Justice Athar Minallah noted that the victim, in this case, can claim defamation through the courts. He also remarked that contempt of court laws do not protect from criticism a retired person, even if they are a former chief justice. “First of all, judges are open-minded about criticism. There is no contempt of court for a retired person, even if the person is a former chief justice. Judges are in a very high position and criticism should be welcomed," he said. In the order, the IHC CJ stated that the petitioner was offended over the criticism of the former chief justice.

The IHC said that after retirement, judges are not part of the bench and are common citizens and can approach alternative forums to get justice. “Contempt law can only be used when it is done in the public interest.”

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