ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) in a written order issued on Friday on proceedings related to former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Rana Mohammad Shamim’s affidavit termed the replies submitted by the alleged contemnors ‘evasive’ and declared that charges would be framed against them on Monday in case they failed to submit the original copy of the affidavit.
The ex-chief judge in his statement had earlier taken the stance that his affidavit might have been ‘leaked’ by the UK’s Notary Public and published by the media. However, the IHC noted that the alleged contemnors had to discharge a heavy onus to satisfy the court about veracity of the published affidavit’s contents that appeared to be ‘false’.
In a written order, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah warned that charges would be framed if the maker of the affidavit, Mr Shamim, the publisher and editor in chief of Jang Group Mir Shakeelur Rehman, senior journalist Ansar Abbasi and resident editor Amer Ghouri failed to show it was executed and published for bona fide purpose.
Former GB chief justice ordered to file original affidavit or else face indictment on 13th
Justice Minallah issued the order after going through the reply submitted by Mr Shamim in which he explained reasons for executing the statement on oath that former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar had made a call to an IHC judge and asked him not to release former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz before the 2018 general election.
“Perusal of the written reply submitted by Rana Mohammad Shamim shows that he has unequivocally taken the stance that he had neither circulated the affidavit to the press nor ‘shared it with anyone’. He has further stated that ‘I made the statement before the Notary Public at London and while placing the same in a sealed envelope, handed it over to my grandson with a clear instruction that neither he would open it nor share the same with anyone’. It has been stated that the copy of the statement was retained by the Notary Public in London for record,” Justice Minallah noted.
“It, prima-facie, appears that Rana Mohammad Shamim has suggested that the affidavit may have been leaked, without his consent, by the Notary Public who had notarized his affidavit in London. He has also unambiguously alleged that his affidavit was used for publication by the alleged contemnors, Ansar Abbasi, Aamir Ghouri and Mir Shakeel ur Rehman without his express or tacit consent/approval. If so, then this could have serious consequences for the Notary Public in London as well as the alleged contemnors who appear to have published the contents of the affidavit in haste with the intent to disseminating it widely amongst public at large,” the court order stated.
‘Judge named in affidavit was on leave’
Regarding Mr Shamim’s assertions that he had overheard a phone conservation of ex-CJP Nisar with the IHC judge on July 15, 2018, Justice Minallah observed: “The judge named in the copy of the affidavit attached with the reply was availing sanctioned ex-Pakistan leave and was out of the country on July 15, 2018.”
According to the IHC order, the timing of news report publication was “crucial” as it related to the appeals fixed for hearing. “It also raises questions regarding the professional conduct of the reporter, editor and publisher of the widely circulated newspaper,” the order stated.
Subsequently, the court held “it has become crucial for the alleged contemnor, Rana Mohammad Shamim, to produce the original affidavit before the court. Likewise, the veracity of the contents of the affidavit published in the newspaper is questionable and the facts narrated therein do not appear to be probable even to an ordinary person of prudent mind. There are, prima-facie, reasonable grounds to believe that the contents of the affidavit are false and its execution was not for a bona fide purpose.”
The court stated that the alleged contemnors “have to discharge a heavy onus to satisfy the court regarding bonafides of executing the affidavit in London and its publication without verification of the essential facts. The contents cast unfounded aspersions on the integrity, independence and impartiality of this court and its judges besides prejudicing the right of fair trial of the parties in the pending appeals and tends to interfere with the administration of justice.”
Justice Minallah termed the replies submitted by the alleged contemnors “evasive” and, prima-facie, unsatisfactory. The IHC warned Mr Shamim to submit original copy of the affidavit or else charges would be framed on December 13.
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2021