PTI chief may express remorse before IHC

Imran to submit written reply in contempt case

Hasnaat Malik August 30, 2022
Former PM Imran Khan is addressing supporters via video link. SCREENGRAB


Former prime minister Imran Khan will submit his written reply to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in the contempt case on Tuesday (today) through his counsel Hamid Khan.

The IHC has formed a five-judge bench headed by its Chief Justice Athar Minallah to hear the contempt case for threatening a female additional district and sessions judge.

The court will hear the case on August 31. The contempt proceedings were initiated against the PTI chief on the notice of the registrar’s office.

Sources revealed to The Express Tribune that there was no unconditional apology in the written reply. However, Imran Khan may express remorse before the bench for uttering words against a woman judge on Wednesday.

Mr Khan is also expected to request the bench to probe the allegations of torture on PTI leader Shahbaz Gill, who has been incarcerated under sedition charges.

Sources further said that Imran Khan will also raise the question of whether the IHC had the jurisdiction to take up a contempt matter against him and cite rules of the court as legal grounds to justify his argument.Senior lawyers however say that if Imran Khan does not express regret then the bench will have no choice but to proceed further against him.

A PT lawyer admitted that the party leadership was jubilant over the IHC’s decision to suspend the PEMRA notification to ban the live telecast of Imran’s speeches on TV.

PTI and judiciary

The PTI has been successful in influencing the superior judiciary through social media campaigns since the Panamagate in 2016.

In October 2016, PTI Chairman Imran Khan had announced a plan to impose a “lockdown” in Islamabad to exert pressure for the expeditious disposal of the Panamagate case. When the PTI began its long march, former top judge Anwar Zaheer Jamali had formed a larger bench to hear the case.

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The top court on November 1, 2016, averted an impending political showdown between the PML-N and the PTI by ordering a judicial probe into the Panamagate scandal. The bench expressed its desire that all political parties, including the PTI, should reconsider their position, adding that all concerned should hold their horses.

“Politics will continue and let people have some peace now,” the then CJP Asif Saeed Khosa had remarked. Later, the PTI wound up the “lockdown" plan and joined the proceedings.

In December 2016, when then Chief Justice Jamali offered an inquiry commission to probe the Panamagate case, PTI's attorney Naeem Bukhari refused to accept it. Subsequently, the case was adjourned 15 days before former CJP Jamali's retirement.

Upon this, a malicious campaign was started against Supreme Court judges, especially the then-new CJP Mian Saqib Nisar, on account of his past association with the PML-N. Former CJP Nisar had formed a larger bench minus himself to resume the hearing.

In January 2017, one member of the bench, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, referring to the campaign against the judges, asked the PTI counsel what kind of justice his client wanted.

In April 2017, a split judgment on Panamagate was announced wherein two judges had disqualified Nawaz Sharif as a lawmaker.

However, three members of the larger bench referred the matter to a joint investigation team (JIT) for further probe into the matter.

Once again, a campaign on social media was initiated against the judges who had not disqualified Nawaz and formed a JIT for further probe.

When the JIT report revealed its findings against the Sharif family, the PML-N supporters also started campaigning against the judges, badly affecting the interests of their party. Three lawmakers were disqualified in contempt cases.

Several party activists were sent behind bars on account of using abusive language against former CJP Nisar.

The PML-N lawyers believed that former CJP Nisar's orders had badly affected the party’s position in the 2018 general elections. When the PTI came to power, there was a perception that the executive, judiciary and establishment were on the same page against opposition parties.

The superior courts did not timely rescue the opposition leaders, who faced a tough time with the PTI government and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

When Nawaz went abroad, former PM Imran accused the courts of facilitating him. However, former CJP Asif Saeed Khosa in his speech rejected Imran's claims against the judiciary

The PTI also continued a campaign against one section of judges in Justice Qazi Faez Isa's case. Justice Isa and his family members were targeted by social media trolls. No state agency took notice of the malicious campaign against him and a few other judges.

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During the tenure of former CJP Gulzar Ahmed, the PTI did not face a tough time in any matter as former attorney general for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan played a key role in the purpose.

The PTI also campaigned against the Supreme Court for declaring the National Assembly deputy speaker's ruling and dissolution of the house as unconstitutional. The SC order had allowed a no-confidence motion against the then PM Imran under Article 95 of the Constitution.

Despite clear SC direction, the NA speaker was delaying the process which might have invited extra-constitutional forces to take over the country.

In view of the bar representatives’ concerns, the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court were opened at night. However, the NA speaker resigned and later the no-confidence process against Imran was completed resulting in his ouster from the position.

However, the SC's move to save the Constitution was not appreciated by the PTI. In every proceedings, Imran has been questioning the opening of courts at midnight. Meanwhile, his supporters have also upped the ante.

Following this campaign, the SC entertained a PTI petition seeking lifetime disqualification of defecting lawmakers under Article 63A of the Constitution.

SC Judge Ijazul Ahsan allowed an appeal in the chamber against the registrar's office's objections to a PTI petition against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) notification for carrying out the delimitation process.

Though PML-N lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan is on general adjournment until May 17, the SC fixed a presidential reference seeking interpretation and scope of Article 63A on May 9. It is to be noted that the PTI leadership is consistently demanding an early decision on the presidential reference.

Former CJP Nisar also met Imran in Lahore. According to media reports, the former top judge had expressed serious concerns over the PTI's social media campaign against judges.

While the PTI was continuously trying to pressure the judges, they were also approaching courts for relief in several matters.