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Former minister Babar Awan. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed Barrister Ali Zafar, the counsel for Senator Babar Awan, to withdraw an intra-court appeal seeking a restraining order for a two-member bench that would indict the former minister for contempt of court on Thursday.

A three-judge bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S. Khwaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, accepted the request of the counsel who wanted to raise certain objections on the plea before a two-judge bench hearing the contempt matter.

At the outset of proceedings, Barrister Zafar cited various judgments and contended that under set judicial precedents when an accused tendered an apology before a court, it was either accepted or rejected and then further trial process under contempt of court charges took place.

He said his client had already tendered an unconditional apology before a two-judge bench hearing the case and there was no need to proceed further on the matter.

Justice Khwaja asked Barrister Zafar to cite a single precedent of the High Court over the issue.

The barrister said it was the right of his client to raise such objections before the bench.

Moreover, the chief justice observed that the court was not targeting anyone specifically.

Referring to Awan, he said the former minister was also a senior counsel of the court and his license had been suspended only temporarily.

He advised the counsel to withdraw his plea, adding that the court did not close doors upon anyone but there were procedures which must be adopted.

Barrister Zafar said his client had tendered a written apology which must be considered and that further proceedings for framing of contempt of court charges should be dropped.

He said it was not known in the country’s judicial history that after tendering an apology, contempt proceedings continued.

He said there was no judgment over the continuation of contempt proceedings under such circumstances.

A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Athar Saeed, would now formally frame contempt of court charges against Awan on Thursday.

Yesterday, the same bench had put off proceedings on the request of Barrister Zafar who had requested that before the framing of charges, the court should wait for a decision on his client's intra-court appeal.

The bench has been hearing a suo motu notice taken on Awan's address at a press conference held at the Press Information Department on Dec 2, after an initial order of a larger bench on the memo issue.

On April 24, the bench had reserved its judgment over framing of contempt charges but said they could not drop the proceeding at this stage.


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