In a heated argument, former law minister Babar Awan on Wednesday raised objections over the Supreme Court’s proceedings in the contempt of court case against him — branding them ‘discriminatory’ in nature.
Awan – who had earlier tendered an apology to the apex court saying that being a contemnor was like an errant child and the court’s role was akin to parents in this case – said that he was being deprived of due process as directed by Article 10-A of the Constitution.
Awan asked the judges why they considered only his actions as contemptuous and did not summon other participants of the press conference – hinting at Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and senior leader of PPP Khursheed Shah– which irked the apex court.
He added that former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had stated twice that views expressed in the so-called contemptuous press conference was party policy.
Awan, quoting his conversation with a Supreme Court bench in the past over a judgment, said: “You [judges] should avoid verdicts that you will regret in the future.”
The two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Ijaz Asghar and Justice Athar Saeed was hearing Awan’s case regarding a ‘contemptuous’ press conference over the Memogate commission’s formation by the Supreme Court.
An exchange of harsh words took place between Justice Saeed and the former law minister during the hearing. The altercation started when Justice Saeed told Awan to “sit down” and not “dictate the court”. The court told him to mend his behaviour by maintaining the decorum of the court, to which Awan complained that he was being solely targeted.
Although present in the court along with his counsel Ali Zafar, Awan directly addressed the bench and demanded them to stop his media trial claiming that he is still a parliamentarian. He claimed that the court was carrying out one-sided proceedings against him without listening to his lawyers.
Justice Saeed then asked Awan to let his lawyer speak, to which Awan replied that he has made up his mind that he would fight his own case. “I am not fleeing anywhere and will face the consequences.”
During the proceedings, Awan told his lawyer that he does not need his services anymore as he will defend himself. Consequently, counsel Zafar returned the power of attorney to Awan and left the case.
Considering his application, the court issued a notice to the attorney general to appear before the court as a prosecutor in Awan’s contempt case. Awan also filed another application asking the court to summon the records of other such contempt cases — giving a list of around 54 contempt of court cases. The court reserved its decision on this point and adjourned the hearing till July 2.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2012.
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