ISLAMABAD: A visibly defensive PML-N loyalist Nehal Hashmi came out with a strange justification before the Supreme Court on Wednesday when he said his fresh outburst against the judiciary was “acting” to reflect what he had experienced in the Adiala prison.
Hashmi, who was facing contempt charges for his fresh outburst against judges of the superior court, said his tirade was not against any institution or individual.
Explaining, he said that when the inmates waiting in despair for conclusion of their cases saw a lawyer (Hashmi) among them, they hurled abuses against the government, the system, Nawaz Sharif and the judiciary.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had taken exception to the fresh outburst of Hashmi, who was seen in a video clip uttering contemptuous words about judges of the superior judiciary after completing one-month jail term also for committing contempt of court.
Apex court issues contempt notice to PML-N loyalist, calls bar councils on Monday
On Feb 1, the Supreme Court had sent Hashmi to Adiala prison on contempt charges, eight months after his outburst on May 28, 2017 in which he appeared to have threatened the members of the apex court-appointed Joint Investigation Team and the judiciary for probing against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family on allegations stemming from the Panama Papers case. The court awarded Hashmi one-month jail term with Rs50,000 fine and imprisonment for another 15 days in case he failed to pay the fine.
On Wednesday the court called representatives of the Sindh Bar Council and other bar councils of the provinces on Monday to assist it in deciding whether to suspend the licence of Hashmi that allowed him to practise in the superior courts.
The court issued another contempt of court notice to Hashmi for ridiculing the judiciary. Hashmi has to submit a reply to the notice by Saturday.
“I feel ashamed that a black coat and black tie (wearing) individual is standing in front of us facing contempt charge for ridiculing the judiciary,” the chief justice regretted and wondered if the court should not refer the matter to the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) to decide whether Hashmi should be allowed to continue practise in the court or not.
The court then asked the staff to play the video clip in which a garlanded Hashmi was seen hurling abuses against the superior court judges for deciding political cases but ignoring cases of ordinary litigants.
Hashmi pleaded that he belonged to the middle class and earned his bread and butter through the profession of law. “I have no other source (of income) and my children and family will suffer badly if the licence to practise is suspended,” he said.
He said he was frustrated and under stress when he uttered such words and added: “I apologise with folded hands.”
Hashmi said he had become so hyper and stressed out in the jail that a doctor came to check him thrice. He denied again that he had uttered such words and said rather he was reflecting whatever the inmates used to say about the judiciary. “I am mentally not fit,” he said.
PBC Vice Chairman Kamran Murtaza, the counsel for Hashmi, also requested the court not to play the video clip and not to mention the words Hashmi had uttered in the order otherwise it would become part of the record.
“You have made it a habit,” Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan told Hashmi, saying earlier during the previous contempt case he had pleaded that he was fasting and now he said he was under stress.
“I am ashamed,” replied Hashmi and requested the court to ignore the outburst and pardon him since even God forgave. “This will not be repeated again,” he assured the court.
“Those on whose behalf you abuse the judiciary will take care of you,” the court said and expressed its regrets over the reaction shown by the bar associations to Hashmi’s conduct.
However, Mr Murtaza said that he himself and the entire bar was embarrassed and felt ashamed over the sordid event. Mr Murtaza told the court that he would like to withdraw from the case and would not defend Hashmi on account of the obnoxious words he had uttered.
Meanwhile the same bench withdrew a contempt of court charge against outgoing PPP Senator Taj Haider with an observation that a court judgement could be criticised but there was a limit to it. To instigate public violence while criticising a judgement was not acceptable, the court observed.
The contempt charge was initiated against Haider and former information minister of Sindh Sharjeel Memon for allegedly ridiculing a Supreme Court ruling and instigating people against it in 2011.
In a reaction to the Supreme Court verdict which declared illegal the appointment of retired Justice Syed Deedar Hussain Shah as chairman of the National Accountability Bureau, the PPP’s Sindh chapter had called for a strike that halted commercial and business activities in the province.
The court admitted that his statement reflected seriousness and it seemed that he did not want to instigate people against the judiciary.
Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2018