Covid-19 patient stirs panic in Islamabad courtroom

Published March 27, 2021
The accountability judge Azam Khan, his staff, prosecutors and lawyers also hurriedly left the courtroom. — Reuters/File
The accountability judge Azam Khan, his staff, prosecutors and lawyers also hurriedly left the courtroom. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Panic gripped the accountability court on Friday when an active coronavirus patient emerged to testify in the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) reference.

The NAB prosecution produced Ameer Haider Malik, a Covid-19 patient, as witness in the Mudarabah reference in the accountability court judge Azam Khan.

He appeared as a routine witness in the court and remained with the litigants, lawyers and prosecutors.

The prosecution has cited Malik – a resident of Karachi - as witness in the case and asked the court to summon him as witness in Mudarabah case.

Ironically, the witness travelled from Karachi and changed multiple vehicles to reach the accountability court in Sector G-11 of Islamabad.

The court resumed as per usual routine and the proceeding continued calmly until Malik rose to the rostrum just to request the judge to record his statement as early as possible since he could not stay in the congested courtroom for being a Covid-19 patient.

The sudden revelation created panic among those inside the courtroom as everyone tried to rush out of the place.

The accountability judge Azam Khan, his staff, prosecutors and lawyers also hurriedly left the courtroom. The witness was also asked to leave the premises and the courtroom was disinfected later on.

Earlier, the same court also heard the LNG Terminal reference. The lawyers objected summoning of witnesses contrary to the witnesses’ calendar.

Judge Azam Khan expressed displeasure over the defence counsel for objecting to the witness and said that there are some witnesses who did not appear despite repeated summons.

He said that the court had to conclude the trial which could only possible with the timely recording of statements of witnesses.

Meanwhile, Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday announced closing of IHC and sessions courts for every Saturday and Sunday because of Covid-19.

A notification issued by the IHC registrar Sajid Baloch stated that “on recommendation of the Crisis Management Committee, chief justice and judges have been pleased to approve that the Islamabad High Court and district courts, Islamabad shall work for five days a week (Monday to Friday) and remain closed on Saturday and Sunday with effect from March 29, 2021.”

As per the notification the closing hours on Friday will be observed as 3:30pm.

The courts will remain open from Monday to Saturday as per routine.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2021

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