ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday issued contempt charges against two lawmakers, Senator Faisal Vawda and MNA Mustafa Kamal, for their recent outburst against the judiciary.

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, a three-judge SC bench preferred to issue show cause notices to the two parliamentarians, instead of first issuing simple notices, under Article 204 of the Constitution, read with the Contempt of Court Ordinance of 2003.

This was due to the malicious allegations levelled against the judiciary and judges, and the alleged contemnors speaking about matters that were sub judice before the courts, including the Supreme Court.

Representatives of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) appeared before the court, stating that the two politicians’ utterances constituted contempt of court.

According to an order dictated by the CJP, the press conferences of both lawmakers were broadcast on internet and social media, and prima facie, their assertions appeared to be contempt of the judiciary. Therefore, the court is constrained to issue show cause notices to Senator Vawda and MNA Kamal, directing them to submit their explanations/replies for allegedly maligning the judiciary within two weeks, as well as appear before the court on June 5 in person.

Senator Vawda had castigated the superior court judges at a press conference on May 15 at the National Press Club. On the same day, Mustafa Kamal of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan launched a tirade against the judiciary at a presser.

The SC also ordered Pemra to furnish the complete press conferences, including the question-answer session, of the two parliamentarians, along with the transcripts. Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan has been appointed a prosecutor to prosecute the alleged contemnors.

A day earlier, the court had taken exception when Justice Athar Minallah, while pointing towards the AGP at a hearing, regretted that the judiciary was “being threatened through proxies”. Later, the SC decided to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the two lawmakers.

During the hearing on Friday, the CJP observed that he had always talked of strengthening parliament, but the institution of the judiciary was being attacked and maligned.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Chaudhry Aamir Rehman read out Article 19, which deals with the freedom of speech, stating that every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression, subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law, which includes stating something against the judiciary amounting to contempt of court. The AAG then read out Article 204, which defines the contempt of court.

“Sorry, we have to issue contempt notices,” the CJP said while dictating the order, adding that even if he had done anything wrong, he should be corrected, but the institution of the judiciary should not be maligned.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2024

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