PESHAWAR: The prime minister’s special assistant, Shahzad Akbar, on Thursday tendered an unconditional verbal apology to the Peshawar High Court expressing regret for his remarks against the head of a special court, which awarded death sentence to former military ruler retired General Pervez Musharraf for high treason in 2019.
A bench consisting of Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Syed M Attique Shah directed him to submit a written affidavit about his apology in two identical contempt petitions filed against him, federal ministers Farogh Naseem and Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, former special assistant to the prime minister Firdous Ashiq Awan and former attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan.
Mr Shahzad said he could never think about bringing any judge or court into disrepute and that he regretted what he had said and wanted to tender an apology for that.
He said he was leaving himself to the mercy of the court on the matter.
The bench was hearing two identical petitions filed by lawyers Malik Ajmal Khan and Syed Azizuddin Kakakhel under Article 204 of the Constitution read with Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003.
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The petitioners said except the prime minister, the other respondents, including ministers and his special assistants, had leveled different allegations against the president of the special court, Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, who was the Peshawar High Court chief justice, and tried to scandalise him.
Former attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan said he wondered why he had been made a respondent in the petitions as he hadn’t uttered any contemptuous words but even then, he regretted what had happened after the said judgment.
The bench observed that being attorney general for the country, Anwar Mansoor held a responsible position, so he should have stopped the alleged contemnors from committing the offence and he would have been made party in the case due to that reason.
The bench observed that if an ordinary citizen had committed such an offence he could be spared but it didn’t suit those occupying high official positions to act in such an irresponsible manner.
Justice Roohul Amin further observed that both the judiciary and the Parliament were respectable constitutional bodies and their respect was binding on all. “One should not get emotional if any judgment is delivered against him,” the judge observed.
Petitioner Mian Azizuddin Kakakhel opposed acceptance of the apology of Shahzad Akbar stating that the contemnor did not deserve any leniency.
He said in the contempt cases, former lawmakers of PML-N Nehal Hashmi and Talal Chaudhry were convicted and disqualified from holding any public office.
As federal minister Chaudhry Fawad and Firdous Ashiq Awan did not turn up in the hearing, the bench issued fresh notices to them for appearance on the next hearing to be fixed later.
During previous hearing last month, federal law minister Barrister Farogh Naseem had appeared before the court and regretted his remarks during a news conference against the special court’s head.
The respondents in the petition of Malik Ajmal included Prime Minister Imran Khan, Farogh Naseem, Firdous Ashiq Awan, who is currently the special assistant to the Punjab chief minister, and Shahzad Akbar, while the petition of Syed Azizuddin has them as well as federal minister Chaudhry Fawad and Anwar Mansoor as respondents.
Apart from prosecuting the contemnors, petitioner Azizuddin also requested the court to disqualify the prime minister and other respondents from holding any public office for the committing the contempt of court.
He said the special court had declared Musharraf a proclaimed offender after giving him many opportunities to defend himself but he didn’t turn up and the case was proceeded leading to his conviction on Dec 17, 2019.
Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2021