MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Supreme Court on Thursday issued a bailable warrant for arrest of a senior opposition lawmaker for his “continuous non-appearance” before a division bench for the clarification of his alleged contemptuous remarks about the superior judiciary.

In his speech on the floor of the Legislative Assembly on May 24, Sardar Khalid Ibrahim, chief of Jammu Kashmir Peoples Party (JKPP) had alleged, among other things, that the recent appointment of five judges in the AJK High Court was the result of a “deal” on the abolition of the AJK Council.

Mr Ibrahim had also levelled allegations against AJK Chief Justice Chaudhry Mohammad Ibrahim Zia, particularly his alleged “negative role” in the recent appointment of five judges in the high court.

After it was reported by the press the following day, the speech earned him the ire of the apex court which issued him a notice for a clarification, either personally or through counsel, of hisremarks about the judiciarybefore senior judge Raja Saeed Akram on June 5.

However, the defiant JKPP chief made it clear at two successive pressers that he would not give any clarifications and would prefer to face imprisonment.

As Mr Ibrahim did not appear before the senior judge on June 5, the latter placed the matter before the chief justice who constituted a division bench, comprising the chief justice and the senior judge, to take up the case.

Meanwhile, since AJK’s superior judiciary does not enjoy suo motu powers, some lawyers came in aid of the apex court by moving two separate applications for initiation of the contempt of court proceedings against Mr Ibrahim.

On June 5 and June 13, the apex court gave two more opportunities to Mr Ibrahim to defend himself on June 13 and July 3, respectively, but to no avail.

On July 3, the apex court indicted the JKPP chief for contempt of court and asked him to appear in person on Oct 4.

Since Mr Ibrahim did not appear on Oct 4, the court fixed Oct11 as next date on hearing.

However, when he did not appear on Thursday either, the bench ordered issuance of a bailable warrant for Rs 20,000 for the arrest of Mr Ibrahim and fixed Oct 31 as the next date of hearing.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2018