ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has warned the federal government that contempt notices will be served on the prime minister and ministers for law, interior and religious affairs if a report on controversial changes in the Khatm-e-Nabuwat declaration is not submitted before the IHC by Feb 20.
The IHC judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui on Monday granted a final opportunity to the government for submitting the report of a committee – headed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Raja Zafarul Haq – which probed into the controversy that whipped up a political storm.
The court was hearing a case pertaining to last year’s sit-in at Islamabad’s Faizabad Interchange against the change in the oath of lawmakers.
The 21-day-long sit-in by protesters of a newly formed religious group, Tahreek-e-Labbaik, had forced the government to sack the federal law minister Zahid Hamid after it failed to clear the area despite a police crackdown. Later, the army had brokered a deal between the protestors and the government.
“Let the matter be adjourned to 20.02.2018 with final opportunity to the federal government to submit the report, otherwise this court shall issue contempt notices to all the responsible and may also consider issuance of notice to the chief executive,” said Justice Siddiqui’s order.
On submission of report and para-wise comments, the court shall start hearing of the case on day to day basis, it said.
The defence secretary submitted before the court a report regarding the person who used the name of army chief in the agreement between the leadership of the protesters and the government.
IHC threatens authorities with contempt charges for non-submission of Faizabad sit-in report
Earlier, Justice Siddiqui had directed the secretary to hold an inquiry and tell name of the person “who used the name of COAS in the impugned agreement between the Faizabad dharna leadership and federal government, facilitated by the army”. The details of the report have yet to surface.
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief on Friday submitted a report, stating that the IB lacked the facility to identify the voice or carry out process of voice matching. On that day, the IB was directed to submit a report and also ascertain which Institution or department could perform the function directed by the court.
The directions were issued in connection with audio of a conversation between two unknown people who were alleging that the deposed premier Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar was behind the sit-in.
Who used COAS’s name in agreement, IHC asks
The IB report had revealed that no response was received from the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence; while the Federal Investigation Agency, the Punjab Forensics Science Agency and the National Forensic Science Laboratory did not have ‘requisite capability/tool’.
“The federal government has already availed sufficient time in playing game of hide and seek with the court,” Justice Siddiqui said in the order when informed that the report was incomplete and couldn’t be submitted. He remarked that the conduct of the respondents was uncalled for and irresponsible.
He asked from the deputy attorney general (DAG) how two members of the committee had signed the report if it was incomplete. The DAG replied that it was an unfinished document and sought a fortnight’s time.
“If the federal government does not comply with the court order then who will,” Justice Siddiqui said, adding that no compromise would be accepted in the matter.
Expressing annoyance over the non-submission of the Raja Zafarul Haq committee report, the IHC had summoned the defence and interior secretaries, threatening to slap contempt of court charges on them.
“Despite their differences, the government and defence seem to be on the same page when it comes to not submitting the report,” the judge remarked. “The concerned officials will be charged with contempt of court if they do not submit the report.”
The court will resume hearing on February 20.