Home Latest News IHC Gives Imran Khan 7 Days to Resubmit ‘Disappointing’ Response in Contempt Case

IHC Gives Imran Khan 7 Days to Resubmit ‘Disappointing’ Response in Contempt Case

During proceedings, Chief Justice Athar Minallah says submitted response does not meet the stature of a political leader like the PTI chairman

by Staff Report

Farooq Naeem—AFP

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday gave Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan seven days to resubmit his written response in a contempt of court case against him for threatening a female judge, after declaring his earlier reply “disappointing.”

A five-member bench, led by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and comprising Justices Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, and Babar Sattar, heard the case and urged the ousted prime minister to review his response and resubmit it.

In a written response to a show-cause notice in the case, the PTI chairman claimed he was unaware that Additional Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry was a member of the judiciary when he voiced threatening remarks about her. However, stopping short of offering any apology, he said he would be willing to “take back” his remarks “if they were inappropriate.”

Expressing his disappointment at the response, Chief Justice Minallah chided Khan’s counsel, Hamid Khan, saying he did not expect him to submit such a reply. Noting that all political parties should believe in upholding the law and the Constitution, he said: “The response submitted [by the PTI chairman] was not of the stature of a political leader like Khan.”

Stressing he had hoped the PTI chairman would boost the court’s confidence through his written response, the CJ appeared to rubbish Khan’s offer of “taking back” his words by saying: “Just as time that has passed cannot come back, words uttered through one’s tongue [also] cannot be taken back.”

Emphasizing that as a popular leader with a massive following Khan should think before he speaks, the judge said he expected Khan to accept his mistake and apologize for it. “Through your response, I feel that Imran Khan has not understood that he has done anything wrong,” he told the counsel, adding Khan’s “anguish” over the alleged torture of his aide, Shahbaz Gill, would have been appreciable if he had voiced the same during his time in government.

Recalling that the IHC had raised the issue of torture without any fear for the past three years, the chief justice lamented it was the state that had encouraged torture in the last 70 years. “Torture, at any level, cannot be allowed. Is there a worse form of torture than making someone disappear?” he said, referring to the ongoing disappearances of citizens, especially from Balochistan, without any charge or information for their families.

Referring to Gill’s alleged torture, Justice Minallah questioned who had control of the Adiala Jail where Gill had been imprisoned during judicial remand. “If there’s even a small complaint of torture, then can the jail authorities imprison a person without medical examination?” he asked, adding the PTI should have looked at the cases of journalists Asad Toor and Absar Alam, who were beaten up and shot, respectively, during its tenure in government. “I wish they [PTI] had raised their voice then,” he said.

At one point, the chief justice also addressed Khan’s repeated questioning of why the IHC had opened at 12 a.m. during the National Assembly’s vote of no-confidence in April against the former prime minister. “This court will remain open 24/7 for the weak. However, the courts do not need to justify before anyone as to why they open and when,” he said.

While the court did not specifically ask for it, it appeared the judges expected Khan to offer an unconditional apology, as the bench also noted that it would have preferred to have wrapped up the contempt case today, but had been forced to continue proceedings due to Khan’s reply.

A larger bench of the IHC had, on Aug. 23, issued a show-cause notice to Khan after taking up contempt of court proceedings against him for threatening a sitting woman judge during a public rally. Directing Khan to appear before it in a personal capacity on Aug. 31, it had forwarded the case to the Chief Justice of Pakistan and sought the inclusion of more judges on the bench to hear it.

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