The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Rawalpindi-based cleric Agha Iftikharuddin Mirza's "unconditional apology" for making derogatory remarks and threats against Justice Qazi Faez Isa and other judges, issuing him a contempt of court notice and directing him to respond in seven days and to personally appear in the next hearing.
A day ago, Mirza had submitted an affidavit before the Supreme Court, tendering an unconditional apology for "unintentionally" uttering some words against the honourable judges in a "private meeting".
A two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan heard the case. During the hearing, Justice Ahsan questioned whether such language could be allowed and if an apology can be accepted in such a case.
The chief justice remarked that there was "no room for mercy" in the case while Justice Ahsan said that the video "was not made by a child but by Mirza himself".
The court further observed that Mirza had a YouTube channel and he earned money through it.
"Such curse words are not used even in the streets. Islamic scholars recorded such a video and then made it public. He [Mirza] accepted in front of the Federal Investigation Agency that he recorded the video in the presence of seven worshippers," Justice Ahsan said.
The judge pointed out that on the one hand Mirza had accepted his crime by submitting an apology but he still claimed he had not committed a crime.
Sarkar Abbas, Mirza's lawyer, said his client was a heart patient and should be forgiven to which the chief justice said he [Mirza] should have kept his "tongue in check".
The chief justice berated Mirza's lawyer for not understanding the importance of the case and for taking it lightly. "We can send Iftikharuddin [Mirza] to jail for six months," he said.
Justice Ahsan said according to Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan, the video could also be classified as a crime under the Criminal Procedure Code and anti-terrorism laws, adding that there was no room for forgiveness in such cases.
"The video was planned and pictures were used as well. These words [in the video] have been used against institutions. Forgiveness cannot be asked after using such words," Justice Ahsan remarked.
Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan argued that Mirza had used "strong words" against the judiciary which had damaged its respect. But the AG did acknowledge that Mirza had been shifted to a hospital on complaints of heart pain and dizziness.
"He started getting dizzy after the judiciary took notice. If the court wants, it can announce punishment today if he pleads guilty," Justice Ahsan said.
The top court also refused to accept a letter by Justice Isa's wife and directed her to submit it according to court procedures. It also refused to hear arguments from lawyers of journalists Hamid Mir and Mohammad Maalik.
The case was adjourned until July 15.
Last month, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed took notice of a video clip containing "derogatory, contemptuous, and scandalous language" against Justice Qazi Faez Isa and other superior judges.
A statement by the apex court had said: "The [CJP] has taken notice of [a] video clip viral on social media containing derogatory, contemptuous and scandalous language against the institution of judiciary and honorable judges."
The matter was first fixed for hearing on June 26.
Meanwhile, Justice Isa's wife, Sarina Isa, had also informed police late last month that the life of her family was in danger as they were receiving threats and had requested officials to register a case against those who were threatening and harassing her family.
She had filed an application at Islamabad’s Secretariat Police Station.
Subsequently on June 30, an Anti-Terrorism Court handed over the custody of Mirza to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for seven days for hurling threats and abuses at Justice Qazi Faez Isa and other judges of the Supreme Court in a video lecture.
Yesterday, the FIA furnished in the apex court an interim report on the video in question, highlighting that Mirza had denied making the speech on anyone’s instigation or direction.
In its report furnished through FIA director (law) Malik Tariq Mehmood, the investigation agency stated that Mirza had already deleted the video from YouTube and Facebook. It added that the FIA had also got the custody of Mirza and his accomplice Akbar Ali on physical remand till July 6.
The report explained that the IP addresses used by the accused persons for uploading the video had been traced and the concerned ISPs had been approached to provide the subscribers detail of the internet devices through which IP addresses were accessed. According to the FIA, the operators concerned have also been approached to obtain Character Detection and Recognition (CDR) and subscriber’s details of the SIMs in use of the two suspects to further unearth their probable nexus with other co-accused.
The FIA in its report stated that the investigation on the basis of FIR No 3 of 2020 under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorist Act (ATA) read with sections 34, 500, 505 and 506 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (Peca) had been entrusted to a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising Assistant Directors Khurram Saeed Rana, Mohammad Azmat Khan and Adnan Khan of CCRC and FIA’s counterterrorism wing inspector Raja Wajid Hussain.