ISLAMABAD: Non-bailable warrants were issued on Tuesday for the arrest of the deputy commissioner of Islamabad, Irfan Nawaz Memon, for issuing orders repeatedly for detention of PTI leaders Sheharyar Afridi and Shandana Gulzar in violation of court orders.

Mr Memon, along with SSP (Operations) Malik Jameel, is facing contempt charges.

Justice Babar Sattar of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) directed the interior ministry to put Mr Memon’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL) and ensure “he is unable to leave the territorial jurisdiction of Pakistan”.

The court also directed the FIA and police chiefs to ensure his arrest and that he be produced before the court on Wednesday at 9am.

The court issued these directions as Mr Memon was not present before the court when it resumed contempt proceedings.

Judge sees officer’s absence from hearing as an attempt to delay proceedings against him over repeated issuance of PTI leaders’ detention orders

Raja Rizwan Abbasi, counsel for Mr Memon, informed the judge that his client was scheduled to go on a pilgrimage along with his family on Feb 23, but his mother insisted for a family reunion before their departure to Saudi Arabia.

Therefore, he went to Khairpur to meet his mother, the counsel explained.

The judge asked as to why the DC went to his village without seeking prior permission of the court and then ordered issuance of his arrest warrants.

When senior advocate Shah Khawar tried to make a submission, Justice Sattar asked him to keep quiet as he was dictating the order.

The judge noted that Mr Memon was under an obligation to appear personally before the court after his indictment and issuance of a show-cause notice to him.

The officer was informed on Feb 19 that his request for grant of exemption from appearance before the court was not allowed. Yet his refusal to abide by the court order and skipping the hearing without any plausible explanation apparently constitutes contumacious contempt of the court and an attempt to delay proceedings, he observed.

The court also issued a show-cause notice to him why he should not be punished for such defiance and obstruction of justice under Sections 3,5 and 17 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, read together with Article 204 of the Constitution.

Mr Memon is an accused in a matter that is being tried by the court on a day-to-day basis.

“The order sheet reflects that while the show-cause notice issued to Irfan Nawaz Memon on 15.08.2023, the proceedings in the matter have suffered delays to accommodate the respondents and the convenience of their learned counsel.”

His counsel had informed the court at a previous hearing that his client wished to proceed for Umrah on Feb 22 and advised him that the trial should hopefully be concluded before then.

Justice Sattar noted: “It is inexplicable how, despite the denial of exemption from personal appearance, the deputy commissioner could choose to defy the order of this court and choose not to appear before the court today even though the matter was fixed for final arguments and the time for hearing was fixed at 2:30pm on the request of the learned counsels for the parties to suit their convenience.”

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2024

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