LAHORE, Sept 28: The Lahore High Court chief justice on Friday issued show-cause notices to Federal Minister of Religious Affairs Syed Khurshid Shah and Secretary Muhammad Azam Samaa for not complying with court order about allocation of Haj quota among newly-registered Haj Group Organisers (HGOs) and directed them to appear in person before the court.
The new HGOs, through their counsel Azhar Siddique, argued that the ministry deliberately ignored the directions issued by the court and had not allocated Hajj quota among the petitioner-organisers.
He said the secretary of the ministry had undertaken before the court that the order would be implemented with but he did not keep his words. The counsel alleged that minister Khurshid Shah had restrained the secretary from implementing the court orders.
He urged the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the minister and the secretary under Article 204 of the Constitution and Section 3 of Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.
A deputy attorney general, Naseem Kashmiri, opposed the request of contempt proceedings against the minister and pleaded that public office holders enjoyed immunity against contempt proceedings under Article 248(1) of the Constitution.
Advocate Siddique, however, argued that the Supreme Court in its judgment against the Contempt of Court Act 2012 had ruled that no public office holder had immunity against the offence of contempt of court.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that Article 248 of the Constitution did not give protection against non-implementation of court orders.
Advocate Imtiaz Siddiqui, on behalf of the ministry, told the court that an appeal had been filed before the Supreme Court against the LHC order. Petitioner’s counsel, however, stated that no stay order had been granted to the ministry so far and the respondents were intentionally delaying the right of new HGOs.
After hearing the arguments, the chief justice issued show cause notices to the respondents and ordered them to appear in the court on Oct 2 and explain their position.