Contempt notice: Imran’s reply fails to impress the top court

The PTI chief should have not condemned the judiciary on the basis of perceptions, says Justice Khawaja.

Mudassir Raja August 02, 2013
“You should not have criticised the judiciary or called its role ‘shameful’. Today you have lost [the election], but tomorrow you may win an election held under the same judicial officers,” says Chief Justice. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


In an outburst of rage last week Imran Khan had bitterly railed against the role of the judiciary and the poll supervisory body in the May 11 elections, calling it ‘shameful’. On Friday, however, he said his criticism was directed at returning officers, and not the judiciary as a whole.

“The press statement [that triggered the contempt of court controversy] was made in good faith on July 26 wherein the reference to the judiciary was for the returning officers (ROs) and district returning officers (DROs) belonging to the subordinate judiciary assigned to the election process,” Imran said in a written statement submitted to a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court.

The bench – headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry – was hearing a contempt of court notice against Imran. The two other judges on the bench were Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed.

Imran Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), didn’t fare as well as it would have liked to in the May 11 elections, despite emerging as the third largest in parliament. The party alleged that the elections were massively rigged in some constituencies and that the ROs and DROs were complacent.

In his written reply, Imran said he held the Supreme Court in high esteem and that he had high expectations from the court for redress of his party’s grievances related to the elections.

Unimpressed by the reply, Justice Chaudhry expressed his dismay over Imran’s choice of words for criticising the judiciary. “The use of the word ‘shameful’ for the judiciary is tantamount to abusing the court,” he remarked.

The chief justice also shot down the criticism of the ROs, saying that it was the PTI that had demanded the involvement of the district judiciary in the election process.

But Hamid Khan, the counsel for Imran, insisted that his client had “genuine grievances against the ECP staff and the ROs, because the results were different from what were expected in different constituencies.”

Defending Imran’s outburst, Hamid said the press statement in question was made by a politician based on his political perceptions and apprehensions.

The bench didn’t buy the argument. If the PTI had any grievances, it had all legal and constitutional remedies available, observed Justice Khawaja. The PTI chief should have not condemned the judiciary on the basis of perceptions, without submitting evidence of rigging.

“You should not have criticised the judiciary or called its role ‘shameful’. Today you have lost [the election], but tomorrow you may win an election held under the same judicial officers,” added the chief justice.

Justice Chaudhry also enquired Hamid if his party favoured holding the upcoming local bodies’ elections under the supervision of the executive.

On his part, Justice Khawaja observed that the bench was concerned about the respect of the judiciary as an institution and not for the ego of some judges. The derogatory remarks were not used by a commoner ignorant of the law, he added.

Adjourning the hearing till August 28, the bench asked Hamid to submit a comprehensive response at the next date of the hearing.

Earlier, Imran addressed the bench directly and reminded the judges of his struggle for an independent judiciary. However, the bench stopped him from arguing his case, saying that he had a lawyer to plead for him.

In courtroom No 1, Imran was flanked by PTI leaders Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Jahangir Tareen and Ghulam Sarwar Khan, apart from dozens of his supporters.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2013.


J M | 10 years ago | Reply

No doubt that chief justice has taken some good decisions in the recent years. In some cases, we have observed that he went out of the way and called for sumoto actions against certain individuals--even at the price increase of Somosas!! The primary function of supreme court is to do an utmost justice and not to side with any individual or any political party. So if Imran is requesting for the past several weeks to do an investigation only in 4 the constituencies--then why Supreme court is not taking an action? On the contrary, when Nawaz league is submitting their application for the date change in the presidential elections, the Supreme courts not only takes an action very next day--rather they give a verdict in PML's favor even without listening to other political parties. This action of Supreme has lost it's moral grounds. This a clear dichotomy seen in the Supreme courts decision. I think Supreme court needs to show some wisdom and should not take an extreme position on this particular case. In the worst case scenario they should issue a light warning to Imran not do use these words in the future with the Promise that Supreme court will quickly address the PTI concerns. One thing we need to understand, at the end of the day, this is Supreme court's job is to provide justice as a whole and to act like a father figure to address an issue of every citizen of its nation. Please refer to the link below where President Obama showed his anger on a recent court order against the famous Zimmerman's case. So should we believe that Obama has done a contempt of court and should Supreme Court of United states should charge him?

Muhammad Akbar | 10 years ago | Reply

Imran should not have rediculed the judiciary. he should have contacted the courts with evidences or for recheking or whatever problem they were having and then if the courts did not do their job, Imran would have been in good position. then if any shortfall would have occurd Imran would have a valid point and everyone would have supported him. He is quite outspoken and i feel he is straightforward but that doesnt mean that he should speak without good reason. did he approach the judiciary after elections??? No!

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