Firdous Ashiq Awan gets another contempt notice from IHC

PM's adviser given till Monday to submit written explanation


Saqib Bashir November 01, 2019
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court served another contempt of court notice to Special Adviser to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan.

The special adviser has been instructed to explain in writing why she should not be convicted for contempt.

The single-judge bench, however, accepted her apology on an earlier contempt notice regarding her criticism of the court's decision to grant former premier Nawaz Sharif bail on medical grounds.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader needed to convince the court why she should not be convicted for criminal contempt under Section 5 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 and gave her three days to submit the written explanation.

The notice said Awan "attempted to give an impression" that the IHC had extended "special dispensation" to the former premier. It also observed that her October 29 statement "amounts to prejudicing the pending proceedings".

"By doing so, you prima-facie made an attempt to influence proceedings of a pending appeal and acted with intent to thwart the course of justice and thereby committed criminal contempt."

Court proceedings

During the hearing, Justice Minallah censured Awan for politicising judicial matters. "You mocked our decision to grant bail on medical grounds and said you wished the courts provided relief to the common man as well."

Justice Minallah said Nawaz was granted bail after the government-constituted medical board informed the high court that his condition was critical.

The chief justice further observed that creating doubts about the judiciary in peoples' hearts was not good for the country.

Awan was also censured by the bench for attempting to sway public perception on a sub-judice matter. "You tried to make a pending court case controversial," said Justice Minallah as he directed court staff to read out rules for urgent appeals to the PM's adviser.

"Urgent appeals can be filed at any time - the courts are never off-duty. If your law minister has not briefed you on this, please consult any lawyer present here."

Justice Minallah also observed that Awan’s statement was unwarranted for a spokesperson of the federal government. He expressed hope that her words did not echo Prime Minister Imran Khan's sentiment.

The hearing was then adjourned till Tuesday and directed Awan to appear in-person. The special adviser requested a change in the date citing the weekly federal cabinet meeting.

Denying the request, Justice Minallah said the meeting can be held in the district court so the cabinet sees the state of courts.

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