The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday held outspoken PML-N leader and former privatisation minister Daniyal Aziz in contempt of court, and sentenced him till the rising of the court, which renders him disqualified to contest elections for a period of five years under Article 63 (1)(g) of the Constitution, DawnNewsTV reported.
According to Article 63 (1)(g) of the Constitution, a person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if he has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction...unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.
Speaking outside the court, Aziz denied ever saying the words for which he was held in contempt. "I never said the words that were written in the newspaper and for which I was held in contempt," he claimed.
Aziz argued that the contemptuous phrases on whose basis he was held in contempt were censored with a beep when they were aired in news bulletins, which according to Aziz, was akin to him not having said it.
"I have never violated the court's orders," he said. "In fact, me and my party — the PML-N — have always implemented the court's orders. To disagree is our right, we have always done that and will keep on doing it."
Following the verdict, Aziz's legal counsel announced that his client would file a review petition in the Supreme Court. If the verdict gets overturned in review, Aziz may still be able to contest the July 25 general elections from NA-77 (Narowal).
However, in case he fails to get the verdict overturned, he says his party does have a contingency plan for his constituency. "This decision will affect the people of my constituency but we had arranged for an alternative in the light of the situation in Pakistan," he said. "My father has also filed nomination papers [from the same constituency]."
On February 7, the apex court had issued a notice to Aziz for contempt of court for an "anti-judiciary" speech made by him.
On March 13, the SC had indicted Aziz in the contempt case. The proceedings were held under the Contempt of the Court Ordinance 2003, read with Article 204 of the Constitution, against Aziz for making derogatory and contemptuous speeches and statements against the apex court which were also telecast by different television channels.
The SC bench had observed that Aziz was "committed to scandalising the court". Aziz had, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
The charges against him were that Aziz, a federal minister at the time, while addressing a press conference on Sept 8 last year, had accused Justice Ijazul Ahsan of summoning NAB authorities in Lahore for preparing corruption references against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his family members and Ishaq Dar.
Similarly, on Dec 21 last year, Aziz had hurled accusations against Justice Ahsan by demanding that he tells the nation who confided in him about the Capital FZE.
The SC ruling on Aziz's contempt case and his subsequent ineligibility to contest polls evokes the memory of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's conviction of 2012.