A letter written to Chief Justice of Pakistan Irshad Hassan Khan, on Friday, October 6 2000 :

"Dear Chief Justice

"Storming of the Supreme Court - November 28 1997

"Following the normal practice regarding sworn affidavits and other papers addressed to the Registry or Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan at Islamabad, my affidavit sworn on September 27 2000 was presented to the Deputy Registrar at the Supreme Court Registry at Karachi. The Deputy Registrar refused to accept it, and I was asked to send it to the Registrar at Islamabad.

"A special courrier was flown to Islamabad and the sealed enveloped containing the affidavit was handed over to the Registrar at 0830 hours on September 28. The sealed enveloped was bounced from one office to another (the courrier's travails have been conveyed to you by my letter of September 29 2000) and finally the unopened sealed envelope was handed back to the courrier by the Deputy Registrar at 1300 hours that same day. On the receipt he wrote : 'Applications received by mail are not entertained. Hence returned.'

"I have been advised that no rule, regulation or law has been changed which empowers a deputy registrar of the Supreme Court stationed at any registry in the country to refuse to accept any communication.

"If this be wrong, may I (and the people) please be informed.

"By your judgment delivered on September 28 2000, 1,034 days after the Storming of the Supreme Court, seven 'footstormtroopers' have been convicted and the buck was passed on to 'a superintendent of police'. In this regard, I send herewith copies of editorials from the national press : Dawn, October 1; The Nation, Sept 30, and The News, September 30 2000.

"Also sent is a reproduction of excerpts from my column 'Storming of the Supreme Court - 2' printed in Dawn on April 5 1998."

The excerpts sent : "The people must not forget that this is the first case of its kind in the recorded judicial history of any democracy. It is unprecedented that a ruling party, a government of the day, has committed contempt 'in the face of the court' by perverting the course of justice with a preplanned invasion.

"Morris v Crown Office was the first case in Britain in which the Court of Appeal had to consider 'contempt in the face of the Court'. The Rt Hon Lord Denning, then the Master of the Rolls, in his book 'The Due Process of Law', published in 1980, devotes a chapter to the dramatic invasion of the court by a group of Welsh students who were upset because programmes to Wales were being broadcast in English and not in Welsh. He recounts :

" 'Eleven young students had been sentenced to prison. Each for three months. They were all from the University of Aberystwyth. They were imbued with Welsh fervour. They had been sentenced on Wednesday, 4 February 1970. I always see that urgent cases are dealt with expeditiously. We started their appeal on Monday, 9 February and decided it on Wednesday, 11 February. I also have some say in the constitution of the court, so I arranged for one of the Welsh Lords Justices to sit. Lord Justice Arthian Davies was well qualified. He was not only Welsh. He could speak Welsh. He sat with Lord Justice Salmon and me. We heard the argument on Monday and Tuesday. We discussed the case on Wednesday morning and delivered judgment on the Wednesday afternoon.' He goes on to give extracts from this judgement (1970 2 QB 114).

" 'Last Wednesday, just a week ago, Lawton J, a judge of the High Court here in London, was sitting to hear a case. It was a libel case between a naval officer and some publishers. He was trying it with a jury. It was no doubt an important case, but for the purposes of today it could have been the least important. It matters not. For what happened was serious indeed. A group of students, young men and young women, invaded the court. It was clearly pre-arranged. They had come all the way from their University of Aberystwyth. They strode into the well of the court. They flocked into the public gallery. They shouted slogans. They sang songs. They broke up the hearing. The judge had to adjourn. They were removed. Order was restored.

" 'When the judge returned to the court, three of them were brought before him. He sentenced each of them to three months' imprisonment for contempt of court. The others were kept in custody until the rising of the court. Nineteen were then brought before him. The judge asked each of them whether he or she was prepared to apologise. Eight of them did so. The judge imposed a fine of fifty pounds on each of them and reequired them to enter into recognisances to keep the peace. Eleven of them did not apologise. They did it, they said, as a matter of principle and so did not feel able to apologise. The judge sentenced each of them to imprisonment for three months for contempt of court.

" 'In sentencing these young people in this way the judge was exercising a jurisdiction which goes back for centuries. It was well described over 200 years ago by Wilmot Jr in an opinion which he prepared but never delivered. 'It is a necessary incident,' he said, 'to every court of justice to fine and imprison for contempt of the court acted in the face of it.' That is R v Almon (1765) Wilm 243 254. The phrase 'contempt in the face of the court' had a quaint old-fashioned ring about it; but the imporatnce of it is this; of all the places where law and order must be maintained, it is here in these courts. The course of justice must not be deflected or interefered with. Those who strike at it, strike at the very foundations of our society. To maintain law and order, the judges have, and must have, power at once to deal with those who offend against it. It is a great power - a power instantly to imprison a person without trial - but it is a necessary power. So necessary, indeed, that until recently the judges exercised it without any appeal. There were previously no safeguards against a judge exercising his jurisdiction wrongly or unwisely. This was remedied in the year 1960. An appeal now lies to this court; and, in a suitable case, from this court to the House of Lords. With these safeguards this jurisdiction can and should be maintained.

" 'Eleven of these young people have exercised the right to appeal and we are here concerned with their liberty : and our law puts liberty of the subject before all else.......

" '(The Advocate conducting the defence] says that the sentences were excessive, at the time they were given and in the circumstances then existing. Here was a deliberate intereference with the course of justice .... It was necessary for the judge to show that this kind of thing cannot be tolerated. Let students demonstrate .... But they must do it by lawful means and not by unlawful. It they strike at the course of justice in this land .... they strike at the roots of society itself, and they bring down that which protects them. It is only by the maintenance of law and order that they are privileged to be students and to study and live in peace. So let them support the law, not strike it down.'

"Also on the matter of contempt and on the need for courts to maintain their dignity and authority, Lord Denning quotes from his judgment in the case of Balogh v St Albans Crown Court (1975 1 QB 73).

"The judges should not hesistate to exercise the authority they inherited frm the past. Insults are to be treated with disdain - save where they are gross and scandalous. Refusal to answer with admonishment - save where it is vital to know the answer. But disruption of the court or threats to witnesses or to jurors should be visited with immediate arrest. Then a remand in custody and, if it can be arranged, representation by counsel. If it comes to a sentence, let it be such as the offence deserves - with the comforing reflection that, if it is in error, there is an appeal to this court ....".

"In the case of the Welsh students, the Court was invaded on February 4, they were sentenced on Februarty 4, the appeal was heard on February 9 and decided on February 11. All within the space of one week."

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