The Federal Directorate Education (FDE) Director-General Dr Shahnaz Riaz was briefly arrested from the courtroom on Tuesday for her contemptuous attitude and using ‘inappropriate language’. She was released after submitting a surety bond.
Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi of the Islamabad high Court (IHC) not only issued a show-cause notice to her but also checked her “mental capacity” by asking some questions during the proceedings of a case.
“The language used by her was contemptuous and not tolerable,” observed the judge.
Justice Qureshi on Monday had issued bailable arrest warrants for Riaz on a plea filed by Taj Traders and others seeking court intervention in payment of their dues.
According to the petitioners, they provided furniture to different schools in 2012 but their dues have not yet been cleared as, according to them, the DG was lingering on the matter on one pretext or the other.
“First listen to me,” Riaz aggressively repeated thrice when she appeared before the court ignoring the judge’s question why she did not appear on August 24 despite repeated orders.
“I have been deprived of justice and you should provide justice,” she retorted, adding she could not turn up as she was busy in a standing committee meeting.
The court, however, noticed she did not produce proof of her presence at the standing committee meeting and has not yet submitted Rs50,000 surety bond issued against her on previous hearing.
The language and attitude of the top official of the education regulatory body further drew the judge’s ire and she was subsequently taken into custody on court’s order.
“She is an officer of grade-20 and such behaviour is not expected from her,” Justice Qureshi stated in his order.
Despite everything, the judge took a lenient view and ordered her release subject to furnishing Rs50,000 bond with directions to appear in person on each and every hearing.
“Justice is on sale in courts,” Riaz allegedly remarked when she was escorted by two women police officials to their control room.
To this, the court called her back and sought explanation. She immediately denied passing any such remarks.
The court, however, directed Raja Khalid Mehmood Khan, the standing counsel, Malik Mudassar Hussain and Hafiz Arfat Ahmed advocate to appear before the court as witnesses of her remarks on next hearing.
Earlier, to check her mental capacity, the court asked if she has ever appeared before any court. Riaz replied she has never appeared before any high court, Supreme Court and not even before any lower court.
It is, however, interesting to note that Riaz was granted stay in a matter by the same court and later she rejoined the FDE as its DG after the Supreme Court had given a verdict in her favour.
It is unclear if she was completely lost or under pressure as a moment later, she told the court that her law officer informs her about all court cases and he was the one who failed to inform her about yesterday’s court appearance.
Among other questions, the court also asked whether she knew decorum of the court and how to behave with a judge? Her answers were affirmative.
Dissatisfied with replies from the FDE head, the judge also issued show-cause notice against her under contempt of court law.
In the order, Justice Qureshi observed that the stance of Riaz was not clear and she was required to submit a reply to the show-cause notice within three days.
The case will be taken up on August 28.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2015.