A three-member Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Azmat Saeed on Thursday reserved its verdict in a contempt of court case against PML-N leader and Minister for Privatisation Daniyal Aziz.
Before the bench reserved its verdict, prosecution lawyer Rana Waqar recounted the events of the case for the court. Wrapping up his closing arguments, Waqar said, "There is a limit to freedom of speech."
Aziz's lawyer Ali Raza, on the other hand, maintained the position the defendant had taken throughout the case. He said that the complete video which contains comments aired on DawnNewsTV was not presented in court, and asked why the maker of the video was not brought to court as a witness.
"The video DawnNewsTV ran was from a private meeting, thus there is no contempt of court case to be made against my client," Raza said during his closing arguments.
After the closing arguments, Daniyal Aziz himself spoke in court to reiterate that he "respects the court completely" and that he had worked for the strengthening of state institutions "all his life".
However, cutting Aziz's comments short, Justice Saeed told the PML-N leader to reserve his remarks for outside the court.
"Like people start leaving a jalsa [after it is over], people have started leaving since you began speaking," Justice Saeed pointed out, prompting laughter in the court.
The bench then reserved its verdict in the case.
The SC had served Aziz a contempt of court notice in February for an "anti-judiciary" speech. However, the court had not specified which speech had caught the judges' attention.
Following last year's Panama Papers judgement in which Nawaz Sharif was disqualified, members of the ruling party, including Aziz — on a number of occasions — had launched unprecedented verbal attacks on the judiciary, accusing it of having "different standards" for the former prime minister.
In a December 15 speech, Aziz had claimed that the purpose of disqualifying Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen was to save Imran Khan, the court said.
Aziz in this speech, while referring to the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif and Khan's receiving a 'clean chit', claimed that the court's verdict pointed towards political engineering. "This is all being done according to a script," Aziz had said in the clip.
On December 20, a few days after the apex court cleared Imran Khan in a disqualification case, Aziz, on the floor of the National Assembly, had recounted the entire history of the Panama Papers case and questioned the way the courts had conducted the matter.
Stopping just short of blaming Nawaz's ouster in the Panama Papers case on a ‘grand conspiracy’, he had recalled how the Jamaat-i-Islami had filed a petition naming all 450 Pakistanis mentioned in the Panama Papers with the SC, which was declared frivolous and rejected.
“Imran Khan then filed a copycat petition, containing just Nawaz Sharif’s name. That too was thrown out,” he had said, adding that the PTI had then staged a ‘failed lockdown’ of Islamabad to put pressure on the court.
"But rather than sticking to its decision, the court changed its mind and took up the cases that were earlier thrown out," Aziz had said, casting aspersions on the court's intent.
A third claim made by Aziz against Justice Ijazul Ahsan on Dec 31 was also highlighted by the court in the charges framed against the PML-N leader.
The case was adjourned and the court summoned prosecution witnesses to provide their testimonies in the next hearing on March 26.