ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top court on Wednesday issued a contempt of court notice to cricket legend-turned-politician Imran Khan over his “critical and derogatory” remarks against the judiciary and judges of the apex court and summoned him to appear before it on August 2 to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him.
The Supreme Court, in the notice issued to the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chief, has said that Mr Khan apparently had tried to incite hatred against the apex court in one of his interactions with the media.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, will hear the case on Friday.
“Prima facie, it seems that Imran Khan has started a deliberate campaign to scandalise the court and bring judges into hatred, ridicule or contempt,” said an order dictated by CJ Iftikhar.
At the press conference on July 26, the PTI chief had criticised the role of the judiciary and the Election Commission of Pakistan and termed it shameful. He alleged that the May 11 general elections had been rigged because of the role played by the two institutions.
A note by the SC registrar on the basis of which the contempt notice was issued stated that Imran Khan had also alleged that he wanted to ensure that no such shameful elections were held in future. “The PTI accepted the election results, but not rigging,” he said.
At the press conference, Mr Khan expressed lack of trust in the judiciary and alleged that the judiciary/Supreme Court had a hand in rigging the elections.
The double standards of the judiciary have come to surface as his party’s candidates were knocked down on technical grounds, the PTI chief had alleged.
“Thus these acts call for action for contempt of court under Article 204 of the constitution, read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003. Therefore, notice be issued to Imran Khan to appear before the court on Aug 2 and explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him,” the court said in its order. Attorney General Muneer A. Malik has also been asked to assist the court.
Meanwhile, PTI’s senior leader Shafqat Mehmood has said the party will not seek a pardon and defend their case lawfully.
PTI’s vice-chairman, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said the party would examine legal aspects of the contempt notice and react accordingly. “Imran Khan said nothing derogatory. Rather he talked with reason on the floor of the National Assembly, questioning lack of transparency in the conduct of general elections,” he said while talking to Dawn.
The party leadership had not yet received the contempt notice, he said, adding that the PTI was a political party and would definitely adopt a legal course. He said the recent developments, especially helplessness shown by the Chief Election Commissioner while resigning from his office, had raised a number of questions and doubts.
Mr Qureshi cited a news report and said the CEC had expressed reservations over intrusion into the domain of the Election Commission.
The PPP’s information secretary, Qamar Zaman Kaira, described the issuance of contempt notice to Mr Khan as “very unfortunate” and said such notices always put national leaders in a very “painful situation”.
He said Mr Khan might have used some harsh language and he would definitely explain his position before the court, but every political party and every segment of society had the same viewpoint and feeling about the general and the presidential elections.