The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday issued another contempt of court notice against Nehal Hashmi for his latest 'inflammatory' speech targeting the judiciary, made after his release from Adiala Jail following a one-month prison sentence for contempt of court.
Hashmi had once again lashed out at the judiciary while complaining that his appeal against conviction is still pending when he has already completed his sentence.
The SC had on Tuesday taken exception to this fresh outburst and ordered the registration of another first information report (FIR) against Hashmi. The decision was taken after a video clip of Hashmi's latest speech was screened for the bench.
Upon seeing the video, the chief justice had remarked that the former PML-N senator had, once again, used objectionable language against judges after his release.
Although Hashmi's lawyer Kamran Murtaza had claimed his client was "ashamed" of what he said and asked for the contents of the speech to be omitted from the court's written order, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had refused the request and mulled over whether he should enhance Hashmi's sentence.
He had then ordered the former Senator to appear before the court today (Wednesday) to explain his position.
In today's hearing, Hashmi was handed another contempt of court notice.
When the accused asked the court to reconsider its decision as his children "would die" without his support, the CJP responded: "You should have thought of that earlier."
Justice Nisar then assured Hashmi that the people "on whose behalf" Hashmi was sullying the judiciary would maybe take care of his children too.
"I am a middle-class man, I just get hyper when I am sad," Hashmi pleaded, blaming his outburst on an aggravated 'emotional state'.
"Does seeing us make you hyper too?" the chief justice retorted, prompting laughter in the courtroom.
On learning that the court was considering cancelling his lawyers' license, Hashmi pleaded that: "I can't even pay my electricity bill without my job [as a lawyer]."
The court allowed Hashmi time till March 11 to submit a written reply. The date for the next hearing of the case was set for the same day.
Hashmi also suffered another blow before the day was done, when his lawyer withdrew his services after obtaining the court's permission to do so.
Held in contempt
Hashmi was sent to jail on February 1 and fined Rs50,000 for contempt of court for an earlier tirade against "those investigating former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family" in the Panama Papers case. He was also barred from holding public office for the next five years.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, in the detailed judgment of the earlier contempt case against Hashmi, had observed: "[Hashmi] is a firebrand speaker and the tone, the pitch and the delivery of the offending words bear an ample testimony to that; but, unfortunately, on that day he had spewed fire towards a wrong direction.
"He attacked the judiciary, the judges and those who were tasked by this Court to investigate some allegations of criminal conduct on the part of the respondent’s political leader, his family, and others."
Contempt notice against Taj Haider withdrawn
Also on Wednesday, the SC withdrew a contempt of court notice issued to PPP leader Taj Haider by former chief justice Chaudhry Iftikhar for want of evidence.
Haider, along with other party leaders, was issued a contempt of court notice in 2011 when the PPP protested against the SC's decision to remove then National Accountability chairman Syed Deedar Husain Shah.
In today's hearing, the CJP said that a person can disagree with a court's decision as long the argument is based on facts. However, Justice Nisar said, it is not permissible to incite people against the verdict or use profanities.
Haider responded that he "could not even imagine" ridiculing the court. He added that he cannot even disrespect a citizen let alone the highest court in the country.
The PPP leader insisted that then CJP Chaudhry Iftikhar was "satisfied" with the PPP leader's stance and no "further action" was taken. Haider claimed that though the public was angry at the SC ruling, he had appealed for calm and ensured that the strike remained peaceful.
Listening to Haider's defence, Justice Umar Ata Bandiyal remarked that the PPP leader "looked like a decent person from his answers and attitude".
"Judging from your personality, it does not seem like you are guilty of contempt of court," Justice Bandiyal remarked.
Justice Nisar said that the court had decided to withdraw the contempt notice since no evidence had been found.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misquoted the Chief Justice as saying the Supreme Court would take care of Nehal Hashmi's children. The error is regretted.