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IHC rejects contempt plea against Maryam, Abbasi for scandalising ex-CJP

Judges not immune from public criticism: IHC. (Source: Dawn)

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday threw out a petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against PML-N leaders Maryam Nawaz and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for “scandalising” former chief justice, Saqib Nisar, declaring it “inadmissible”.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had earlier reserved the judgment on the matter. The petitioner appears to be offended by criticism of the former chief justice, the court observed in the detailed order later issued.

During the hearing, Justice Minallah said in his written order that a judge who ceased to hold a judicial office “attains the status of a private citizen”.”Criticism of the former chief justice does not fall under contempt of court,” it added.

“First of all, judges are open-minded about criticism. There is no contempt of court for a retired person, even if the person is a former chief justice. Judges are in a very high position and criticism should be welcomed,” he added.

“In the case in hand, the petitioner seems to be hurt because a former Chief Justice of Pakistan has been publicly criticised in his individual capacity. This definitely does not attract the offence of contempt,” the order read.

Khaqan Abbasi had on November 15 demanded that a suo motu notice be taken against Nisar after former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan, Rana Shamim, accused him of being involved in denying bail to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Maryam ahead of the 2018 general elections.

“If Mian Nawaz Sharif can go to jail, why can’t Mian Saqib Nisar?” Abbasi had said in a statement after the allegation by Shamim made the news.

Maryam had also held a detailed press conference on Wednesday regarding the recently surfaced audio clip allegedly featuring the ex-CJP Nisar. After Maryam’s press conference, petitioner Kalsum Khaliq had moved the Islamabad High Court, arguing that Maryam and Abbasi had tried to scandalise the judiciary through their statements about the retired chief justice.

The IHC had on Nov 16 taken notice of the investigative report and issued summons to Ansar Abbasi, former chief judge of GB and two others. The hearing of the case will be held on Nov 30.

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