February 03, 2018

Contempt proceedings expand: First Nehal, then Talal, now Daniyal

ISLAMABAD: After punishing Senator Nehal Hashmi and summoning Minister of State for Interior Talal Chaudhry on contempt of court, the Supreme Court on Friday took notice of contemptuous speeches of Minister for Privatisation Daniyal Aziz against the judiciary.

The Public Relations department of the apex court circulated a press release through WhatsApp stating that Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took notice of contemptuous speeches of Daniyal Aziz against the judiciary. The office though did not specify which "contemptuous speech" was made by Daniyal Aziz that had caught the judges’ attention, but directed that the matter be fixed in the court on February 7.

The chief justice the other day also issued a contempt notice to Talal Chaudhry and directed for fixing the matter before the court on February 6. According to a notification, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar issued a contempt notice to Talal Chaudhry over the note of registrar’s office. It was learnt that the registrar’s office gave the chief justice reference to various speeches made by the minister of state in which he allegedly insulted the judiciary.

After disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif last year on July 28, the apex court had shown restraint over the verbal attack, launched by Nawaz Sharif and his comrades, criticising the judiciary for issuing the verdict against him based on injustice.

The mode of criticism of Nawaz Sharif and his party members, including prominent ministers Khawaja Saad Rafique, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Talal Chaudhry and Daniyal Aziz, further ignited when the Supreme Court did not find the PTI Chairman Imran Khan dishonest but disqualified his close aide Jehangir Tareen under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.

Justice Saqib Nisar and other judges of the Supreme Court during the hearings in different cases had repeatedly observed that they are well aware of the criticism being made by the PML-N leaders against the judiciary but they are showing restraint.

Now after a span of six months since the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, the chief justice has now turned the radar towards the ruling PML-N while issuing contempt notices to the federal ministers Talal Chaudhry and Daniyal Aziz and their cases have been fixed in the court for February 6 and 7.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, the other day sentenced and disqualified PML-N Senator Nehal Hashmi for five years for ridiculing and threatening the judges and JIT members.

Faisal Kamal Pasha adds: An accountability court allowed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) application seeking to record the testimonies of two prosecution witnesses of British origin through video link in the Avenfield apartments supplementary corruption reference.

NAB had been seeking to record the testimonies via video link in Britain's Pakistan High Commission office that the court allowed and also directed to make arrangements in this regard.

Earlier, the NAB in its application had said that Robert W Radley, Principal at the Radley Forensic Document Laboratory, and Akhtar Raja, Principal at the Quist Solicitors, have several professional engagements in London. Beside this, the NAB said they cannot physically appear before the court due to rampant terrorism incidents and political violence in Pakistan.

Legal counsel for Maryam Nawaz and Captain (retd) Muhammad Safdar, Amjad Pervez, argued before the court that Robert W Radley in his declaration about his terms and conditions before the JIT had stated that “I may be required to attend the court for cross examination”. In the declaration, there is no mention of video link. Moreover, he said, the anti-terrorism and family laws have provision of recording evidence through video link, but there is no mention of it in the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO). Referring to a Supreme Court judgment, Amjad Pervez said it says that such a statement would be recorded through a commission.

Earlier, the NAB deputy prosecutor general forwarding arguments in this matter said Radley, who revealed that the trust deed submitted by Maryam Nawaz in the Supreme Court was fake and the principal of law firm facilitated the forensic examination; both witnesses are ready to record their statements but certain reasons were impeding their way coming to Pakistan. The deputy prosecutor general said Pakistani laws, including Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), are silent about the fact that witnesses could be compelled for coming to Pakistan for recording their evidence but when the law was framed, there was no concept of video link.

In case the witnesses are compelled to travel to Pakistan, it would not only cause inconvenience for the government authorities but expenses would also have to be paid. Furthermore, he said, there are no reciprocal laws between the two governments, Pakistan and the United Kingdom, to address such a situation.

Amjad Pervez on the aspect of reciprocal arrangement submitted a gazette published in 1960 that was cited in a Supreme Court judgment of 1999. He read from the document that in such circumstance a witness has to be made subject to a court’s jurisdiction for his statement and the Supreme Court Judicature London can examine the witness. If a commission is appointed, the court and prosecution can examine the witness in the Supreme Court judicature of London.

The NAB deputy prosecutor general said that if testimony of the witnesses was not recorded, it may cause prejudice to the accused and witnesses as well.

Further hearing of the case will be on February 06 when the accountably court would record statements of five prosecution witnesses in supplementary references. The witnesses include Mubashir Tauqeer Shah and Muhammad Sultan Nazir from the Ministry of Information, Waqas Ahmed of Geo News, Zawar Manzoor, an Assistant Director in NAB, and one Javed Akhtar. The accountability court on the same day would also decide the date and time for recording evidence of the two British witnesses.



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