Pushing luck? Comical contempt plea lands petitioner in hot water

Court shown forged order bearing judge’s signature; explanation demanded.


Rizwan Shehzad June 09, 2015
Court shown forged order bearing judge’s signature; explanation demanded. PHOTO: IHC WEBSITE

ISLAMABAD:


Justice may be blind, but judges clearly are not.


Such was evident in the court of Justice Athar Minallah of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), when a man presented a contempt petition based on an order ostensibly signed off by the same judge. But the order was not authentic, as Justice Minallah had never issued the poorly-worded document, and his signature had apparently been forged. The icing on the cake was that there was not even a hearing of the case on the day the ‘order’ was ‘issued’.

These details emerged on Tuesday, as the court was resuming the hearing of Suheyl Zafar’s petition, seeking directions for the implementation of the questionable previous order in connection with his regularisation and later termination from service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

When the case was taken up, the current counsel for petitioner Riasat Ali Azad asked the court to proceed against the culprits as the said order was provided to him by the petitioner, while claiming that the petitioner had engaged another lawyer, who had produced the fake document.

Ironically, the petition refers to the actions of respondents as ‘cockamamie, zany, very comical’ and other terms that could be applied to the act of forging a court order.

While talking to The Express Tribune, Azad claimed he came to know that the order was not available with the copy branch of the IHC, and the case had not been fixed before the court when he applied for attested copies.

He has filed a contempt of court petition before the court saying that the respondents — all senior foreign ministry officials — have openly disregarded and disrespect the court order passed on January 27, 2015 and deserve severe punishment.

On the dubious document, apart from using Justice Minallah’s name and signature, Azad claimed that Zafar’s previous counsel — Barrister Mian Mumtaz Hussain — used the names of Advocate Yasir Arafat Abbasi and Deputy Attorney General Malik Faisal Rafique in the forged order directing foreign ministry officials to hand over charge of office to the petitioner within 15 days of the passage of the order.

Azad revealed that Hussain had assured the petitioner that he would get a review order in an earlier petition, which was disposed off without providing relief to the petitioner. “The so-called barrister not only compiled the fake order, he gave it to the petitioner, took him to the ministry, and got a receiving stamp on it from an additional secretary at the foreign ministry,” Azad alleged.

He added that Hussain had told Zafar that he had resigned from the post of Sindh High Court deputy registrar and started private practice. His business card states that he is also the chairman of Pakistan Prisoner Welfare Foundation, Azad said.

“My client was trapped,” he added.

It is interesting to note that the petitioner remained a client of Azad’s except for the short period during which the fake order was obtained. Azad said his client had engaged at that time Hussain for some personal reasons.

On Tuesday, Zafar and Arfat appeared before the court and disassociated themselves from the fake order.

The court has given the petitioner two days to file an affidavit detailing how he came into possession of the forged document.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2015. 

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