ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday directed the former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), Rana Shamim, to submit the original affidavit that accused an ex-chief justice of Pakistan of causing delay in release of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah was hearing a contempt proceeding against former chief judge Shamim, journalist Ansar Abbasi, the resident editor and the editor-in-chief of the newspaper that published a story about the affidavit.

The court warned: “In case the original document/ affidavit, on the basis of which the news report was published, is not produced before this court on the date fixed then it would raise a presumption of its non-existence.”

When the court inquired him about the authenticity of the affidavit published in the newspaper, Mr Shamim replied that he neither read the news item nor remembered the contents of the affidavit since after signing it, he kept the same in a locker with his family residing in the UK.

Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan quipped that Mr Shamim remembered each and every detail of ex-CJP Saqib Nisar’s visit to GB of 2018 but forget what he had stated on oath on November 10.

Affidavit reported by media accuses ex-CJP Nisar of causing delay in release of Nawaz

In the November 10, 2021 affidavit, Mr Shamim allegedly stated that the ex-CJP during his visit to GB made a call to an IHC judge and asked him to ensure that Mr Sharif and his daughter are not released on bail before July 25, 2018 general elections.

The IHC chief justice noted that the said affidavit cast serious aspersion on the judiciary and was an attempt to erode public confidence in the institution.

In reply to the court’s queries, Mr Shamim said his response was obtained by The News International after publication of the news report. He stated he had not provided any document’s copy, as the document executed by him was sealed and kept in a locker in the UK.

According to Mr Shamim, the key of the locker was in possession of his grandson.

Justice Minallah noted that Mr Shamim was not sure regarding the contents of the purported affidavit or document, as the case may be. Mr Shamim then claimed the document/affidavit kept sealed in a locker was not shared with anyone.

The court directed the ex-chief judge to submit his written reply within four days along with the original document/affidavit that he claimed was sealed and kept in a locker in the UK.

The attorney general was directed to coordinate with Mr Shamim to facilitate delivery of the document/affidavit from the UK, while the foreign secretary and Pakistan High Commission in the UK were asked to assist the attorney general in this regard.

The AG was of the opinion that the onus was on the ex-chief judge as publication of the ‘same’ was not a crime and subsequently he suggested that contempt proceedings against the journalist and newspaper’s management might be deferred.

However, Advocate Faisal Siddiqui, amicus curiae in this matter, said that keeping an affidavit in locker was not contemptuous but the contemnor was the publisher who had brought this in public knowledge.

The court asked the registrar office to provide copies of the response of the amici curiae to all the alleged contemnors and adjourned further proceeding till December 7.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2021

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