PHC drops contempt charges against Fawad, Firdous

Published February 10, 2022
Prime minister’s former special assistant Firdous Ashiq Awan (L) and federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry (R). — APP/File
Prime minister’s former special assistant Firdous Ashiq Awan (L) and federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry (R). — APP/File

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday dropped contempt charges against federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry and prime minister’s former special assistant Firdous Ashiq Awan after the two tendered unconditional apology for passing ‘derogatory’ remarks against a special court, which sentenced former military ruler retired General Pervez Musharraf to death for committing high treason.

A bench consisting of Justice Roohul Amin Khan and Justice Syed Arshad Ali disposed of two petitions against Fawad, Firdous, federal law minister Barrister Farough Naseem, former special assistant to the prime minister Shehzad Akber and former attorney general for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan over the alleged contempt of the special court, which convicted Musharraf in 2019.

The three other than Fawad and Firdous separately submitted written apology last year leading to the dropping of contempt charges against them by the court.

The two apologise for diatribe against special court over Musharraf verdict

The petitions were filed by senior lawyers Malik Mohammad Ajmal and Syed Azizuddin Kakakhel stating that the said five respondents had leveled different allegations against head of the special court Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, who was the PHC chief justice, and they had tried to scandalise him.

These petitions were filed under Article 204 of the Constitution of Pakistan read with Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.

Additional attorney general Amir Javed appeared along with Fawad Chaudhry and Firdous Ashiq Awan and said earlier, Farogh Naseem, Anwar Mansoor and Shehzad Akber had appeared before the court in person and tendered apology separately. The court then decided not to act against them under the contempt law.

He said now, the current two respondents had turned up here leaving themselves at the mercy of the court by submitting unconditional apology.

Justice Roohul Amin observed that these respondents were lawmakers but were themselves not following the law which they had enacted. In such like situation, the bench observed what could be expected of common persons.

The bench further observed that if these lawmakers had to criticise courts or their judgements without any valid reason, they should enact a law that they won’t be liable to any action for using derogatory language against the courts.

Ms Firdous said she didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s sentiments and she regretted what she had uttered.

Fawad Chaudhry also said the judges had a very sacred status. He said the judgement of the special court had several defects.

The bench inquired whether he wanted to contest the contempt charge. The AAG said the two had submitted unconditional apology.

The bench observed that the person against whom the two had used inappropriate language was no more, so it would be better for them to visit his grave and lay a wreath there.

Apart from prosecuting the contemnors, petitioner Azizuddin Kakakhel had also requested the court to disqualify Prime Minister Imran Khan and other respondents from holding any public office for the offence of committing the contempt of court.

He claimed that the derogatory remarks were made by the respondents at the behest of the prime minister.

However, the bench turned down that plea, observing how it could be established that the statements were given by the respondents on the insistence of the prime minister.

It added that the petitioners had brought to the notice of the court the commission of the act of contempt of the special court and its chairman and it was up to the court to decide whether to prosecute them or accept their apologies.

The two petitioners said the special court had declared Musharraf a proclaimed offender after affording him many opportunities but he did not turn up and the case was proceeded which culminated into his conviction and sentence of death on Dec 17, 2019.

The judgement of the special court had drawn criticism from the five respondents, especially on a paragraph of the verdict authored by Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, which said the body of retired General Musharraf be ‘dragged to D-Chowk and hanged for three days’.

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2022

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