After hearing the relevant parties to the case, Islamabad High Court, on Thursday, announced the decision to indict Imran Khan for contempt of court. The IHC has now summoned Imran Khan on September 22 to frame charges against him.
IHC had issued a show-cause notice to Imran Khan in the contempt of court case, however, Imran Khan’s response to the show-cause notice was deemed ‘unsatisfactory’ as it apparently ‘justified’ the contempt of judiciary instead of showing ‘regret or remorse’. Hamid Khan, representing Imran Khan, contended that there was a difference between justifying and clarifying and Imran Khan’s response to the notice was a clarification.
Read More: Imran Khan stops short of apologising, expresses ‘deep regrets’ over controversial remarks
Advocates Munir A. Malik and Makhdoom Ali Khan, who were appointed by the court for assistance in the decision, both advised the court against any further proceedings in the case and to accept Imran Khan’s response. However, the court decided against their opinion.
It must be noted here that Imran Khan was served a second show cause notice in the case after his response to the first one was ‘unsatisfactory’, however, Imran Khan failed to satisfy the court in the second response too.
Talking to media, after hearing in the court, Imran Khan said he wanted to address the court but he was not allowed to do so.
During the hearing, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that the judges of session courts are more important than High Court or Supreme Court judges. He asked whether Imran Khan’s response would have been same if he had used those words for a High Court or a Supreme Court Judge. Furthermore he inquired “will the decisions be taken in rallies or the courts”.
Justice Minallah further observed that former Prime Minister was taking a risky stance, recalling that the Supreme Court had also warned Imran Khan against contempt in the past. He reiterated that Imran Khan’s is still justifying his controversial remarks. “You are justifying contempt of court which means that you have no remorse or regret,”, he noted.
Moreover, Justice Minallah also clarified that there are three types of contempt of court charges: judicial, civil and criminal, and the charges against Imran Khan were of criminal contempt as he had commented on a matter that is currently under court proceedings. He noted that that the offence of criminal contempt is serious in nature. “We are defenders of freedom of expression but incitement cannot be allowed,” Justice Minallah said.
Read More: IHC says Imran Khan’s offence “serious in nature”
“The respondent [Imran Khan] takes this opportunity to express his deep regrets over his unintentional utterances during the course of his speech at a rally which was taken out in response to the shocking news of physical torture of Shahbaz Gill”, the response of Imran Khan to the show-cause notice read. “The respondent never meant to hurt her [the judge’s] feelings and if her feelings have been hurt, it is deeply regretted. The respondent neither meant to threaten the lady judge nor could he think of doing so,” it added.
The case against Imran Khan was heard by a larger bench of Islamabad High Court comprised of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri and Justice Babar Sattar.
Imran Khan was charged with contempt of court for using threatening language against Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry during a rally in F-9 Park, Islamabad on August 20. Imran Khan had used ‘threatening’ language against Judge Zeba for approving physical remand of Shahbaz Gill despite reports of his torturous treatment at the hands of police.