ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court showed great restraint on Friday as it cautioned Senator Nehal Hashmi, a former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz loyalist, not to toy with the court.
Instead of responding to a show-cause notice regarding his inflammatory speech, Mr Hashmi had filed an application through his counsel Advocate Hashmat Habib requesting a court order for the transcript of his speech telecast on various television channels so that he could prepare his reply accordingly.
“It means you are trying to play with the court,” Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed, pointing towards Mr Habib.
Counsel cautioned against playing with the court
The Supreme Court was hearing a contempt case initiated on a suo motu notice against Mr Hashmi, who is accused of making a speech in which he appeared to threaten members of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) and the judiciary for probing money laundering allegations against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family.
Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan remarked that the transcript was available everywhere in the world but with the defendant. He added that anyone could obtain the transcript after a cursory search on Google or Youtube. He recalled that on the first date of the hearing, Mr Hashmi was holding up his reply but the court, with abundant caution, had asked him to submit the reply in a formal manner. Now Mr Hashmi had taken the strange stance that he needed the transcript first, Justice Ahsan said.
Mr Habib regretted that his client’s political career and law practice spanning 30 years had been destroyed, and that his political party had stripped him of its membership because of the case. He also brought up a criminal case that had been lodged against Mr Hashmi in Karachi and requested the court to intervene as the senator had been disturbed because of the case.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, however, observed that the criminal case registered against Mr Hashmi was a matter between him and the law.
Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali opposed Mr Hashmi’s application saying that if the contempt case had been initiated on a petition, Mr Hashmi could have asked for a transcript. However, since the court had initiated the contempt case on a suo motu notice, asking for such demands was not inappropriate, Mr Ali observed as he handed over a copy of the transcript to him.
In the application filed on Friday, Mr Hashmi stated that after reading the show cause notice he had realised that it had been issued upon perusal of the transcript of his speech telecast in various television channels containing allegations of threats. The transcript of Mr Hashmi’s speech, the application stated, prima facie appeared to be prepared out of context.
While requesting a transcript of the speech broadcast on television channels, Mr Hashmi stated that as a senior lawyer, he had always respected judges and would never have threatened judges under any circumstance.
Justice Afzal, however, regretted that the court had wanted to give Mr Hashmi leeway at the first hearing after he requested time to engage counsel.
He mentioned that the court had accommodated the senator at the last hearing as well when he had asked for more time, “since we thought it would be better to give him ample time as we did not want to hamper his defence”.
The court, exercising immense caution, decided to give the senator more time till June 23.
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2017