LHC withdraws contempt notice issued to former AGP

Bench takes decision after Advocate Awais resigns


Our Correspondent April 13, 2019
Lahore High Court. PHOTO: EXPRESS

LAHORE: A full bench of the Lahore High Court Friday withdrew a contempt notice issued to former Advocate General Punjab Ahmed Awais. The notice was issued to the advocate under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2002.

An LHC bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan, issued the notice to the then AGP Awais who created an uproar when the court suspended a government notification to form a fresh joint investigation team to probe the 2014 Model Town massacre.

In previous proceedings, the former presidents of the Lahore High Court Bar Association and other lawyers appeared before the court and asked for its leniency in the matter.

Prominent PTI leader Advocate Hamid Khan also appeared before the court, contending that lawyers maintained great respect for the judiciary and could not even thinking of disrespecting judges.

The bench also provided some opportunities to the former AGP with orders to submit a reply. On April 5, Justice Qasim Khan clarified that the court only needed three lines, adding the lawyers were well aware of what was required in such a case. However, the former AGP was adamant not to apologise to the court over his conduct.

On April 11, the bench summoned Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, provincial law minister Raja Basharat, the Punjab chief secretary and law secretary. All the officials appeared before the court.

The court inquired from the CM whether the former advocate general or another lawyer would appear to represent the government in the cases filed against the new JIT. It also pointed out that the bench had issued a contempt notice to the former AGP under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2002.

Responding to the bench’s query over the show cause notice issued to the former AGP, CM Buzdar said he was unaware of the matter as he was busy after the demise of his father.

He revealed that AGP Awais has offered his resignation over the situation. The CM said he greatly respected the courts and assured that a new law officer would appear in the said cases to represent the government.

For his part, the former AGP maintained that he did not want a confrontation with the judiciary. Later, he resigned. Consequently, the bench reserved the decision on the show cause notice issued to him. Finally, on Friday, the bench withdrew the notice.

In previous its interim order, the court said that when it restrained the new JIT from probing the Model Town massacre, AGP Ahmad Awais and dozens of law officers appeared in court and took possession of the rostrum. “The AGP started shouting that this court could not pass any interim order without affording him the opportunity of a hearing.”

It added that he was warned time and again to control his volume, but Awais and other law officers kept on shouting in the court and tried to pressurise it into changing the decision in his favour.

“The conduct of the AGP and other law officers was highly contemptuous.” The court said that, therefore, Advocate Awais was directed to submit a reply as to why proceedings, under sections 3 and 5 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2002, read with Article 204 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, should not be initiated against him.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2019.

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