Contempt of court: ‘Law and order’ scene halted oath-taking, court told

K-P assembly speaker, MPAs appear before PHC to explain pandemonium at Baldev Kumar’s entrance

Hidayat Khan March 07, 2018
K-P Assembly. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: After a week of chaos which saw lawmakers twice thwart attempts to administer the oath to a minority MPA-elect, the provincial assembly speaker told a higher court on Tuesday that adverse ‘law and order’ situation in the assembly prevented him from administering the oath.

This was stated by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser in response to a contempt of court notice.

A two-judge bench of the PHC comprising Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Afsar Shah heard the contempt case on Tuesday. During the hearing, they directed Qaiser to appear before the bench and explain why minority MPA-elect Baldev Kumar had not been administered the oath despite clear directions from the court.

Qaiser, who appeared before the court, explained that he had invited Kumar to the assembly in compliance with court orders. Moreover, he said that he was ready to administer the oath of an Kumar

However, he pointed out that it was members of the assembly who did not allow the process to go through.

Compliance failure: Contempt notice issued to K-P assembly speaker

He recalled that the situation in the assembly last Tuesday— which was also broadcast on the media —was not pleasant and the law and order situation created in the assembly prompted them to escort Kumar out of the assembly before he could be administered the oath.

Justice Hilali, though, did not agree with the K-P assembly speaker’s reply that a law and order situation had been created in the assembly. Instead, he asked why a shoe had been hurled at Kumar.

Members of Provincial Assembly (MPAs) who had been nominated in the petition including Shah Farman, Mehmood Bethani, Arbab Jahandad, Maulana Lutfur Rahman and Maulana Fazali Ghafoor, who also appeared before the court in response to notices issued to them for disparaging behaviour against an MPA-elect and for interfering with the business of the house.

However, they could not give a satisfactory response.

On this, the bench directed the MPAs to submit written replies at the next hearing of the case and explain why such an unpleasant situation was created that the speaker was forced to halt the oath-taking-process and why Kumar was abused.

Advocate General Abdul Latif Yousafzai also urged the court that the assembly speaker had not committed any contempt court since he had complied with court directives by summoning Kumar to the assembly twice.

Later, while speaking to the media outside the court, Qaiser stated that he respects court orders and will obey whatever decision is taken by the court on the issue.

Farman, who is also the spokesperson of the K-P government, explained that allegations against Kumar — of allegedly ordering a hit on former incumbent Sardar Suran Singh — are of heinous nature due to which the assembly members were not mentally ready to accept him into the assembly’s fold.

However, he stated that the government will respect the judiciary and obey its orders.

Kumar, while submitting through his lawyer Muhib Jan Salarzai, told the court that the respondents were deliberately and intentionally avoiding directions of the court by not summoning him to the assembly to administer the oath of an MPA.

Since the court’s orders were not complied with, they constitute contempt and are liable to be punished as such under the law.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2018.