The third Lahore High Court (LHC) bench designated to hear a contempt of court petition against Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and other PML-N leaders was dissolved on Friday.

The dissolution was necessitated after Justice Shahid Jameel recused himself from the case citing personal reasons.

Chief Justice of Lahore High Court Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali subsequently formed a fourth bench to hear the case, replacing Justice Jameel with Justice Masood Jahangir.

Justice Jahangir will be joining Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Atir Mehmood on the bench, which will hear the case starting April 9.

Before this, the LHC chief justice had formed a full bench for the second time after Justice Shahid Bilal Hasan was transferred to the Multan bench and was replaced by Justice Mubeen.

The second bench had comprised Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi — who was heading the bench — Justice Atir Mehmood and Justice Mubeen to hear petitions filed against "anti-judiciary speeches" by Nawaz, Maryam, and other party leaders.

However, the case had been delayed after Justice Mubeen stepped down from the bench while citing personal reasons.

Submitted by Barrister Javed Iqbal Jaffery, the contempt of court petition against various PML-N leaders outline the "inflammatory rhetoric" used by Sharif in his speeches and argues that the PML-N leaders' speeches are direct contempt of court. It further states that Nawaz's speeches could be "classified under treason and were a threat to the sovereignty of the state".

The transmission and publication of such speeches should, therefore, be banned, states the petition, citing the example of MQM-London leader Altaf Hussain, whose speeches were banned in 2015 for his anti-state rhetoric. Jaffery requested that Sharif’s speeches should also be banned in a similar fashion.

Following the Panamagate verdict, Sharif and other PML-N leaders have drawn ire for their criticism of the judiciary.

Multiple petitions have been filed in different courts against them accusing them of contempt of court.

In January, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had accepted a contempt of court petition against Sharif and his daughter Maryam for making speeches critical of the judiciary.

The Supreme Court, however, has dismissed multiple contempt of court petitions against the ousted PM last month, saying on one occasion that: "Commenting cleanly on a [court] decision is the right of every citizen."

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