ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court yesterday disqualified Senator Nehal Hashmi for five years and sent him to jail for a month for contempt of court. It also issued a notice to another PML-N hothead, State Minister Talal Chaudhry over unrelenting attacks at judiciary.

Hashmi, who was also fined Rs50,000 by the court, was found guilty of ‘ridiculing and threatening’ judges and members of the joint investigation team that probed the Panama Papers case in a speech he delivered on May 28, 2017.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and including Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah heard the case against the ex-senator and gave a majority verdict, as Justice Dost abstained signing the judgment penned by Justice Khosa.

He was disqualified from being elected or chosen as a member of parliament for a period of five years from February 1, 2018, under Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution. Soon after the verdict, police took the ex-senator into custody and shifted him to Adiala Jail – a prison well-known for housing condemned politicians.

Hashmi is one of those PML-N leaders who went too far in criticising the court’s decision to disqualify ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif on July 28 last year in Panama case, which pertained to alleged money laundering and corruption allegations against the PML-N chief and his family.

The video of Hashmi’s speech, wherein he issued grave threats to the Panama bench judges, the JIT and their families, had gone viral on social media and was also aired on news channels. On May 31, the apex court took notice of his threatening remarks, staring a trial that ran for eight months.

An extract from the judgment read: “If the Judges of this Court were weaklings or feeble at heart and if they could be frightened or browbeaten by verbal assaults or naked threats, then the respondent namely Senator Nehal Hashmi had surely made a valiant attempt at that. It, however, appears that he and those he wanted to obey or please are poor judges of men.”

There was quite a commotion when the decision against Hashmi was announced in the courtroom No-1, at the Supreme Court building, where a three-judge bench headed by CJP Mian Saqib Nisar was also hearing petitions seeking disqualification of some public office holders under Article 62(1)(f).

When asked to argue, Kamran Murtaza - who was representing a former MPA - requested the chief justice to hear him tomorrow. He said he was much disturbed over the sentencing of Hashmi, as it was he who also represented the senator the contempt case.

The chief justice after a pause said: “Whatever happened has happened according to the Constitution.”

After the verdict, police escorted Hashmi to Adiala Jail amid very tight security. Personnel of Punjab Police and other law enforcement agencies had been deputed on roads leading to the jail to avoid any untoward incident.

Sources said that Jail Superintendent Saeed Ullah Gondal and other prison staff received the PML-N senator and took him to jail hospital where doctors carried out his medical examination. The sources said after the formalities, Hashmi was shifted to a cell where he would remain for one month.


Notice on Talal’s ramblings

Hours after the apex court sentenced Hashmi, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took a suo motu notice of “contemptuous speeches” by PML-N leader and Minister of State for Interior Talal Chaudhry, ordering him to appear on Feb 6 to clear his position over the tirade against judiciary.

Chaudhry, who has been criticising judiciary in talk shows and media talks on occasions of hearings against Sharif family at Accountability Court and Supreme Court, last week went a step further and urged PML-N president to “throw out” PCO judges.

He breathed fire at the judges during his speech at PML-N’s rally in Jarranwala, where PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz also criticised the judiciary.

Chaudhry said: “There was an era when the Kaabah was full of idols. Today, the judiciary, which is the country’s highest institution, is also full of PCO [Provisional Constitution Order] idols.”

“Mian Nawaz Sharif, throw them [judges] out, throw him [CJP] out of the court. They will not give justice but will continue their injustices,” he went on to say.




Text of judgement against Hashmi

The judgment against Hashmi noted: “Nehal Hashmi’s speech on May 28, 2017, established that the PML-N ex-senator is a firebrand speaker and the tone, the pitch and the delivery of the offending words bear an ample testimony to that but unfortunately on that day he had spewed fire towards a wrong direction.

“He attacked the judiciary, the judges and those who were tasked by this court to investigate some allegations of criminal conduct on the part of the respondent’s political leader, his family and others.

“Hashmi launched a verbal tirade and issued naked threats which he now himself realizes to be improper, unwise and imprudent.

“The offending words uttered by the respondent (Hashmi) in the relevant speech, were nothing but an effort to obstruct, interfere with and prejudice the proceedings pending before this court and before the Joint Investigation Team working under the direct command and supervision of the apex court in the Panama Papers case.

“The offending words uttered by the respondent in public were meant to interfere with, obstruct and prejudice the process of law, justice and this court and were also intended to bring the authority of this court and administration of law into disrespect, disrepute or hatred under section 3 of Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 and Article 204 of Constitution.

“The manner in which the respondent had acted on the occasion was surely prejudicial to the integrity and independence of the judiciary of Pakistan as a whole as it had defamed and brought it into ridicule.

“While adverting to the provisions of section 18 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, we have felt satisfied that the contempt committed by the respondent is quite grave and is one which is substantially detrimental to the administration of justice besides tending to bring this court and the judges of this court into disrespect and hatred.”

The court noted that Section 5(2) of the said ordinance dealing with the submission of an apology by a person accused of having committed contempt of court “does not envisage an automatic acceptance of the apology but makes its acceptance subject to the court’s satisfaction about its bona fide”.

“The apology tendered by the respondent on 24.01.2018 itself mentioned that initially he had contested the proceedings and the same is also evident from his reply to the show cause notice dated 20.06.2017; his ‘further reply’ dated 07.07.2017 and his ‘statement’ dated 16.08.2017,” said the verdict.

“The belated apology submitted by the respondent after about seven months of commencement of these proceedings and at the fag end of such proceedings, when the evidence of the prosecution has already been completely recorded and closed, speaks volumes about the apology being an afterthought”.

The conduct of the respondent in this regard impinges upon bona fide of his apology and, thus, the same has not been found to be meriting acceptance. Such apology of the respondent may, however, have some bearing upon the sentence. The court found him guilty of committing contempt of this court as charged, it said.



Court cracks down on

PML-N firebrands