Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial of the Lahore High Court said on Monday that he rejected the Ministry of Religious Affairs joint secretary’s apology for uttering “contemptuous remarks”, though he did not decide if contempt proceedings should be initiated against him.
On July 4 Joint Secretary Sher Ali, in a written reply to a contempt petition against the ministry, had said the court was entertaining the petition and summoning ministry officials “for no reason” and hindering the ministry’s functioning.
He said that the ministry had allotted quotas on merit. In the contempt petition, the ministry is accused of ignoring LHC orders to award Hajj quotas to new private tour operators in addition to operators previously registered with the ministry.
The chief justice had been angered by Ali’s reply and summoned him for yesterday’s hearing.
Ali submitted an unconditional apology to the court at the onset of Monday’s proceedings. The chief justice, addressing Ali, said that one should think ten times before accusing a judge of bias.
“The judiciary is working according to the law and the Constitution of Pakistan. The judges are answerable to Allah only,” he said. He said that the Ministry of Religious Affairs had not followed tax laws when allocating quotas. He said that defaulters often paid bribes to get off paying their full taxes.
The CJ said that he would decide at the next hearing whether to initiate contempt proceedings against Ali and adjourned the case for July 11.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2012.
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