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Awan tells SC he is being discriminated against

July 05, 2012

ISLAMABAD, July 5: Former law minister Babar Awan bemoaned on Thursday before the Supreme Court hearing contempt charges against him that he was being discriminated against and this created an impression that standards of dispensing justice were different for different people.

“Justice will be seen to be done only if people are treated with parity,” he argued.

Mr Awan is facing the contempt charge for his media jibe at the judiciary. He had severely criticised the apex court at a press conference on Dec 1 last year soon after it had ordered an inquiry into the memo scandal by Tariq Khosa, a former director general of the FIA, and attacked a sitting SC judge for being a brother of Mr Khosa.

On May 17, a two-judge bench had indicted Mr Awan for bringing the apex court into hatred and ridicule by defaming and scandalising through the press conference.

On Thursday, Mr Awan regretted that he was being arraigned in the contempt case only because he was a senior advocate of the Supreme Court and it was not expected of him to ridicule the judiciary. He cited the case of Dr Arsalan Iftikhar, son of the chief justice, who is facing the allegation of financial wrongdoing.

“I admire the Supreme Court judgment in the Dr Arsalan case because the provisions of Article 10-A which ensures fair trial was rightly invoked,” he said, adding that he was happy because he was law minister when this concept was incorporated through the 18th Amendment in the Constitution.

Mr Awan also said the Supreme Court had rightly decided that allegations involving Dr Arsalan should be decided by a proper forum despite a lot of furore and hullabaloo in the country at the time.

He cited another case involving a PML-N member of parliament who was accused of grabbing land worth Rs6.5 billion, but this matter was also referred to the trial court concerned. The purpose of this argument, he said, was to convince the court to refer his matter to the Pakistan Bar Council, the mother organisation regulating the affairs of the legal fraternity.

Mr Awan deplored that it was the seventh month that his licence to practise before the Supreme Court had been suspended.

Justice Eajaz Afzal observed that the court had to examine whether the instant matter related to the contempt of court or a case of professional misconduct. The counsel, he said, should not pre-empt the court’s decision because if the court came to the conclusion that it was the case of professional misconduct then it would send the matter to the PBC, otherwise proceed with the contempt matter.

Mr Awan argued that the bench was a quorum non judice and had no authority to proceed with the contempt case, especially when the chief law officer who is attorney general had said the country was without any law on contempt.