The Supreme Court on Wednesday indicted televangelist and MNA Aamir Liaquat Hussain for committing contempt of court on a television programme.
Hussain pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The apex court rejected the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader's unconditional apology and indicted him under Article 204 of the Constitution.
According to the charges against Hussain, he had on March 9, 2017 violated an order of the court dated March 3, 2017.
The court stated in the charge sheet that the MNA's conduct, based on excerpts from his TV programme and his statement, was tantamount to disobeying, disregarding and flouting the orders of the court. He was also charge-sheeted for obstructing, interfering and prejudicing the process of law.
The court, referring to a statement made by Hussain, said it "tends to disrespect and ridicule this court, and thereby, you obstructed, interfered and prejudiced the process of law and due course of proceedings of this court. You, therefore, are guilty of committing contempt of the Supreme Court of Pakistan within the meaning of Article 204 of the Constitution [...] read with section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, punishable under section 5 of the said Ordinance."
The court directed the PTI leader to present witnesses ─ if any ─ in his favour, in the next hearing to be held on Nov 29.
Article 204 of the Constitution deals with contempt of court proceedings and authorises the Supreme Court or a High Court to punish any person who " abuses, interferes with or obstructs the process of the courts in any way or disobeys any order of the courts" or any person who scandalises the courts or otherwise does anything which tends to bring the courts or a Judge of the courts into hatred, ridicule or contempt, or he or she does anything which tends to prejudice the determination of a matter pending before the courts or does any other thing which, by law, constitutes contempt of the courts.
Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 describes the offences that constitute contempt of court, and divides them into three categories: “civil contempt”, "criminal contempt” and “judicial contempt“.
Section 5 of the ordinance states that "any person who commits contempt of court shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to six months simple imprisonment, or with fine, which may extend to Rs100,000, or with both".
However, Clause (2) of Section 5 also states that "a person accused of having committed contempt of court may, at any stage, submit an apology and the court, if satisfied that it is bonafide, may discharge him or remit his sentence."
In August, the SC had slapped on Hussain a contempt of court charge while taking up petitions filed by anchorperson Shahzeb Khanzada, Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Ltd, Mir Ibrahimur Rehman and Najam Aziz Sethi accusing Hussain of flouting a March 28, 2017 restraining order in which he was cautioned to desist from defamatory campaigns and unethical manner of conducting television shows.
Issuing a contempt notice to Hussain, CJP Nisar had questioned whether someone who is not aware of what to say on a public forum should be a parliamentarian.
On October 30, the apex court had refused an apology rendered by Hussain's lawyer in the contempt case.