Tuesday November 16, 2021

Show-cause Notices Issued To Senior Journalist, Editor-In-Chief Including Ex-CJ GB

Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued show-cause notices to senior journalist , former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Mohammad Shamim Ahmed Khan and two others over an investigative report published in an English daily that highlighted an accusation against former chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar of colluding to deny bails to top PML-N leadership before general elections 2018.

The court also directed the respondents to submit their replies within seven days and adjourned the hearing for November 26. The others include The News editor-in-chief and the newspaper’s editor.

Shamim was not present for today’s proceedings presided over by IHC CJ. During the hearing, Shamim’s son told the court that the ex-judge had reached Islamabad the night before and was felling unwell. He also asked permission to play a video in the court and to bring a laptop into the courtroom. However, the request was denied.

At the outset of the hearing, the IHC CJ said that it was necessary to restore people’s faith in the judiciary.

Addressing Editior In Chief , Justice Minallah said that a former judge was issued a notice by the court due to a story carried in the newspaper he publishes.

The IHC CJ said that he had full confidence in his judges. “This case would not exist if I did not have confidence in them. Every judge in this court has maintained the public’s faith.”

He said that judges were also accountable and noted that it was a citizen’s right to criticise them.

He also questioned whether a newspaper’s editorial policy allowed it to publish a story on its front page which cited an affidavit that was filed in London, and directed the senior journalist to read the headline of the story out loud.

The story in question was titled “Ex-CJ GB claims in signed affidavit: ‘Saqib Nisar directed not to release Nawaz, Maryam before 2018 elections'”.

“This affidavit is not a part of any court record. Where was this notarised?” Justice Minallah asked, adding that this concerned the credibility of the higher courts.

Meanwhile, coming down hard on the senior journalist, the IHC CJ questioned whether he had checked the date of the court’s order against Maryam and Nawaz. “You are an expert at investigating, did you investigate yourself?”

He also asked the senior journalist whether he had checked who was part of the bench hearing the cases against the PML-N leaders, adding that he and Justice Aamer Farooq were abroad when the appeal was filed and the case was fixed for hearing.

“Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan were present in the country at the time. Did you inquire about this from the high court registrar?”

He observed that noted lawyers were part of the case against the PML-N leaders. “Did you ask them if they had requested for a date before the general elections?”

He said that Khawaja Haris was the petitioner at the time. “Did you check with him about the bench hearing the case?”

He remarked that “scandals” were being perpetuated to ruin people’s trust in the country’s institutions.

“If another judge spoke like this in front of me I would get in touch with the Supreme Judicial Council,” he said.

“A person witnesses the CJP asking someone to commit a crime. The person stays silent for three years and an affidavit concerning the incident surfaces. How can a newspaper publish such a document?” he asked.

When the senior journalist requested for permission to speak in court, the IHC CJ replied “you have already caused enough damage”.

“I was the one who gave the story, you can take action against me,” the senior journalist said, adding that he had done so in an effort to protect the sanctity of the court.

“A former GB judge is levelling an allegation against a former CJP. Take action against me but also carry out an investigation,” senior journalist said.

During the hearing, Shamim’s lawyer also asked the IHC CJ whether the court would take notice of the statements made by Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda. According to news reports, the minister had stated that the former judge should be hanged and flogged in public for levelling the allegations against Nisar.

However, the court refused to include it in the case and told Shamim’s lawyer to file a separate appeal.

A day earlier, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, under the Contempt of Court Ordinance, took notice of the report, which claimed that in 2018 Nisar influenced judicial proceedings to prolong the detention of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz following their conviction in the Avenfield apartments reference. The allegations were made by Rana Shamim.

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