Islamabad High Court, on Wednesday, issued a contempt of court notice against Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, for her undue criticism of the Court.
The show cause-notice has been issued under the Section 3 of Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003. The notice stated that Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan has defamed the IHC by stating that the hearing on the bail plea that secured the release of incarcerated former Premier Nawaz Sharif was a “special dispensation”.
Criticism of the Judiciary
The IHC notice ordered Dr. Firdous to appear in front of the court on Friday, November 1 at 9am to explain the reasons as to why she criticized the judgment of the court, and provide reasoning for why she should not be tried under the contempt of court clause.
The notice refers to Dr. Firdous’ statement, made during a press conference, wherein she “criticized the judiciary” and stated that granting bail to Nawaz Sharif will lead to “scores of similar requests from prisoners suffering from multiple ailments.”
The notice, as circulating on media, stated, “That you while maligning the honourable courts went on to say that the case of the accused was heard during the evening ‘as a special dispensation’ […] that you as a Special Assistant to the Prime Minister and Spokesperson of the Federal Government made an attempt to scandalize the court in the eyes of the public, thereby, tried to lower the esteem of the judiciary.”
The notice continued, “The contents of your press conference about the courts were unwarranted being a Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, more particularly the Spokesperson of the Federal Government. The act of yours prima-facie attracts a penal action against you under the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003.”
The IHC has allowed the former Premier an eight-week bail, and he has been directed to appeal to the Punjab government for a further extension
On October 26, the PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif approached the IHC with a bail petition, requesting the court to preside over the petition sooner than October 29, in grounds of Nawaz Sharif’s “extremely critical” health condition. After the presiding over the hearing in the evening, the two-member bench of the IHC approved Nawaz Sharif’s bail on medical grounds until October 29, in the Al Azizia corruption case.
Addressing a press conference shortly after the bail was approved, Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said that the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government would like to see such speedy trials for all the prisoners under trial and across all cases. She said, “We hope that this new fashion of speedy trials will be applicable to all cases.”
The Special Assistant to the PM also made commented on the judges’ questions during the hearing on Saturday, and stated that in the past, there was no example of a Prime Minister being asked to assume responsibility for the health of a convict. She said, “We cannot be held responsible for his illnesses, including his cardiac complications and hypertension.”
On Tuesday, the IHC presided over the bail petition again, and Nawaz Sharif was granted a post-arrest bail after suspending his sentence. The IHC has allowed the former Premier an eight-week bail, and he has been directed to appeal to the Punjab government for a further extension.