(CLOCKWISE) Women activists raise slogans in favour of Imran Khan outside the barricade leading to his Banigala estate; a volunteer stops a woman from proceeding towards the main gate of Mr Khan’s home; a youth raises a makeshift barricade to allow someone who was ‘on the list’ to pass through; and, PTI supporters pose for photos outside the gate to Mr Khan’s residence.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star
(CLOCKWISE) Women activists raise slogans in favour of Imran Khan outside the barricade leading to his Banigala estate; a volunteer stops a woman from proceeding towards the main gate of Mr Khan’s home; a youth raises a makeshift barricade to allow someone who was ‘on the list’ to pass through; and, PTI supporters pose for photos outside the gate to Mr Khan’s residence.—Tanveer Shahzad / White Star

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan was granted protective bail for three days in a terrorism case, after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) overruled the registrar office’s objections to his pre-arrest bail on Monday.

However, the IHC taking strong exception to uncharitable outburst of Mr Khan against a female judge decided to initiate contempt of court proceedings against him and constituted a larger bench to hear the matter.

The Supreme Court Bar Assoc­i­a­tion (SCBA) welcomed the decision about contempt proceedings against the PTI chief, pointing out that the legal fraternity could not close the eyes to the “malicious act” that undermined the dignity and prestige of judiciary.

For the contempt proceedings, the larger bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kay­ani, Justice Miangul Hassan Aur­ang­zeb and Justice Babar Sattar was constituted only a day after the former prime minister had been booked under terrorism charges for ‘threatening’ a female judge and top police officers.

IHC constitutes larger bench for his ‘contempt’ trial

On Monday, the IHC registrar, Farhan Aziz Khawaja, put up a note regarding the ‘threatening’ remarks of Mr Khan before acting chief justice of the IHC Aamer Farooq and annexed new­spapers clippings of his speech.

Justice Farooq as well as other judges of the high court delibera­ted upon the matter, sources said, adding that the decision was taken unanimously to initiate con­t­empt proceedings against him.

Addressing a crowd in the federal capital on Saturday evening, Mr Khan had threatened to file cases against Islamabad inspector general of police and deputy inspector general of police and declared: “We won’t spare you.”

The PTI chief then warned the judiciary against its ‘biased’ attitude towards the party and said it should brace itself for consequences. He warned Judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had recently approved remand of Mr Khan’s close aide Shahbaz Gill on police request, that she would also face ‘dire consequences’.

An FIR was registered at the Margalla police station the next day on a complaint of a judicial magistrate, Ali Javed, under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. The FIR also reproduced the Mr Khan’s remarks about the female judge and Islamabad police officials. It was pleaded in the FIR that the public address was meant to ‘terrorise’ top police officials and the judiciary so that they do not perform their functions and abstain from pursuing any action against PTI leaders if required to do so.

Protective bail

On Monday, the ex-premier was granted protective bail in the terrorism case.

While the registrar office earlier objected that Mr Khan did not complete the mandatory requirement of biometric verification at the time of filing of the petition, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani overruled the objection and converted his pre-arrest bail plea into protective bail petition.

The PTI chief was then granted protective bail for three days with the direction to seek bail from the sessions court before the expiry of three-day period.

SCBA’s reaction

SCBA President Ahsan Bhoon welcomed the IHC’s decision of initiating the contempt proceeding.

As per the SCBA statement, Mr Bhoon “lambasted the way in which the name of female ADSJ was hurled publicly”.

He said, “It was not only offensive and derogatory but also undermined the dignity and prestige of the entire judicial system.” Mr Khan’s conduct “exposed how much he cares about the respect and reverence of honorable judges”, the SCBA president stated, adding that the legal fraternity “cannot turn a blind eye towards such malicious act, which undermines the dignity, decorum and prestige of judiciary.”

The SCBA demanded that the IHC “take strict cognizance against those found involved in such contemptuous act with iron-fist so that no one dare to indulge in such malicious act ever again.”

Published in Dawn, August 23rd, 2022

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