The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday summoned Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal for an allegedly "anti-judiciary speech" against Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, that he had made last week.
The decision to call Iqbal to court was taken during a hearing on a petition against ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif and other PML-N leaders over their alleged anti-judiciary tirades.
Last week, the interior minister during a seminar had criticised Chief Justice Saqib Nisar for allegedly levelling baseless allegations against him, saying that the latter had “no right to name-call people”.
Iqbal was referring to remarks made by Justice Nisar during a case in which the vice chancellor of Lahore College for Women University, Prof Uzma Qureshi, was suspended. During the hearing, the chief justice had said that he knew Iqbal's role in Qureshi's appointment.
“You [Justice Nisar] must issue me a charge sheet. If you have evidence, produce it before me. But enough is enough," the minister had challenged.
Petitioner Advocate Azhar Siddique said in his application that Iqbal's speech also falls into the category of anti-judiciary rhetoric.
"The law does not wish to fine [people that make anti-judiciary remarks], it seeks to stop these speeches," the petitioner said.
During the hearing, Justice Syed Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi asked which political leaders had made anti-judiciary speeches since the last hearing of the case.
In the last hearing of the case on April 12, Justice Naqvi had questioned the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority's (Pemra) repeated failure to exercise its suo motu powers to stop tirades against the state institution.
Siddique replied that the interior minister had made such a speech.
Upon hearing this, the judge ordered Iqbal to present himself in court in the next hearing of the case and set May 7 as the date of the hearing.
A larger LHC bench was formed on Justice Naqvi's request to wrap up all pending petitions against PML-N leaders for their alleged anti-judiciary tirades.