SC refuses to hold Nawaz in contempt, says citizens can comment on verdicts

–CJP says accused may have ‘crossed the line’ in some other comments but it did not appear to be during his speeches at GT Road rally


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday dismissed a contempt plea against deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif a day after rejecting a similar petition, stating that citizens had the right to comment on judicial verdicts.

Petitioner Sheikh Ahsanuddin, a member of the Justice and Democratic Party, had filed the petition against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader after the SC dismissed a petition seeking initiation of contempt cases against Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar during the court proceedings on Wednesday remarked that the court did not consider the presented evidence contemptuous.

“Commenting cleanly on a [court] decision is the right of every citizen,” CJP Nisar remarked.

The CJP also said that the accused may have “crossed the line” in some other comments but it did not appear to be during his speeches at the GT Road rally. “We have to take notice of contempt, not you,” the CJP told the petitioner.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that judicial forgiveness should be exercised by the courts. He added that the court’s limits for forgiveness are broader than those of the petitioner.

A contempt petition against Federal Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique was also dismissed during the hearing.

Earlier on Tuesday, the court dismissed contempt petitions against Saad Rafique, former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Firdous Ashiq Awan, former Senate chairman Nayyar Bukhari and Captain (r) Safdar.

The contempt cases against late former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and Syed Iqbal Haider were also declared ineffective and disposed of.

The CJP on Tuesday stated that the former premier had used inappropriate words against the JIT and not the court and hence did not qualify for a contempt of court offence. He also added that the case against anti-judiciary statements by Nawaz Sharif will be heard at an appropriate time.

Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday issued notices to Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) seeking replies on a petition seeking a ban on speeches by PML-N leaders.

Justice Shahid Kareem of the LHC asked the Sharifs and PEMRA to submit their replies by March 15.

The petition states that Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) parliamentarians were not refraining from making anti-judiciary speeches with reference to the Panama case decision, which clearly added up to contempt of court.

Similarly, Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Jan 29, declared admissible the petition filed against ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz on their anti-judiciary speeches.

In December last year, ousted premier Nawaz Sharif announced a campaign against what he called the “double standards” of the judiciary.

Nawaz Sharif announced the anti-judiciary drive after the top court gave a clean chit to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan but disqualified general secretary Jahangir Tareen on constitutional petitions filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi.

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