A special bench of the apex court resumed the suo motu hearing of a contempt of court case against Babar Awan, regarding his news conference last year, in which he had allegedly derided the court’s handling of the Memogate issue.
During the proceedings, Attorney General (AG) Irfan Qadir expressed his reservations over the procedure employed by the judiciary in contempt of court cases.
To make his point clear, Qadir referred to the Supreme Court verdict leading to the disqualification of former premier Yousaf Raza Gilani.
“I want to tell you clearly that you have convicted the country’s prime minister illegally and your order is void ab initio,” said Qadir, addressing a two-member judicial bench, comprising Justice Ijaz Afzal Khan and Justice Athar Saeed. The judges had also been a part of the seven-member bench that disqualified Gilani.
However, the attorney general was asked by Justice Athar Saeed to refrain from debating a matter not currently before the court.
Qadir, meanwhile, insisted on the issue, pointing out that he had reminded the judiciary on several occasions that no contempt law existed in the country, adding that the court had applied a ‘defunct’ law in the cases of both Awan and Gilani.
The attorney general also raised objections over the prosecution process employed by the judiciary in Babar Awan’s case.
‘Remnants of martial law’
Earlier, speaking before the court, Awan maintained that if the contempt of court law could be applied on him, the same should be the case for a host of other news conferences and television talk shows, where judicial matters were constantly derided.
Citing the Supreme Court Rules 1980 and the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003, Awan described these laws as being remnants of martial law regimes.
Awan complained that he was not being given a fair trial under relevant provisions of the constitution, since he had not addressed the controversial news conference alone.
“For the past seven months, I have not been able to continue my legal profession. I might have to adopt some other vocation to make ends meet,” lamented Awan, referring to the bar imposed upon his legal practice.
“I might also file an application seeking appearance of Justice Asif Khosa, so that he can inform the court as to whether he had been hurt by my comments,” added Awan.
The court adjourned the hearing of the case till July 5.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2012.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ