ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan finally apologised on Thursday before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
A five-member bench comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri and Justice Babar Sattar took up the contempt of court case against Imran Khan for controversial remarks about Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry during a rally in Islamabad on August 20.
Imran Khan appeared before the court amid strict security. On Thursday, the court was set to frame charges against the former prime minister during the hearing. However, Imran Khan offered an apology at the outset of the hearing.
“I apologise if I crossed any line. It won’t happen again. I never intended to hurt the sentiments of the court,” Imran Khan said while assuring the court of never committing “such an act again.”
He also requested the court to allow him to apologise to Judge Zeba Chaudhry in person. At this, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that the court is not framing charges against Imran Khan today and postponed the indictment till October 3.
“The court values your statement [given] before the court. You understood the gravity of your statement, we appreciate that,” IHC CJ Minallah said. The court directed Imran Khan to submit an affidavit regarding his statement till Sept 29 and said that further case would be proceeded in the light of it (affidavit).
Following this, IHC CJ Athar Minallah remarked that it would not be appropriate to conduct contempt proceedings. The court decided not to indict the PTI chief after he agreed to apologise to Judge Chaudhry and the hearing was subsequently adjourned till September 26 (Monday).
On August 23, a larger bench of the IHC issued a show-cause notice to Imran Khan after taking up contempt of court proceedings against him for threatening an additional sessions judge during the rally.
The PTI chair had staged a rally in the federal capital on August 20 to express solidarity with his chief of staff Shahbaz Gill after claims of torture inflicted on him in custody. He warned the Islamabad inspector-general police and deputy inspector-general police that he would “not spare” them, vowing to file cases against them for subjecting Gill to alleged inhuman torture.
Turning his guns towards the additional sessions judge, who sent Gill on physical remand on the police’s request, Imran Khan then said she [the judge] should brace herself for consequences.
Earlier, terming Imran Khan’s response “unsatisfactory” at the last hearing on September 8, the IHC had decided to indict the former prime minister after he did not submit an unconditional apology.
In his first response to the IHC’s show-cause notice in the case, the PTI chairman did not apologise, offering, however, to withdraw his remarks “if they were inappropriate”. In his latest and second response, which was a 19-page-long document, the PTI chairman seemingly opted to tell the court that it should discharge the notice based on his explanation and follow the Islamic principles of forgiveness.
However, in both responses, the PTI chairman did not offer an unconditional apology, which ultimately led to the court taking the decision despite amici curiae suggesting that the former prime minister be forgiven.
Speaking in Geo News programme, ‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath,’ Imran Khan’s counsel Hamid Khan stated that Imran’s apology is not unconditional as the PTI chief has said he is willing to apologise if the court or the lady judge understands that he has committed a contempt of court.
Hamid said that in an unconditional apology, it has to be acknowledged that contempt has been committed, which is not the case as there was no intention of committing contempt of court.
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