ISLAMABAD     -    The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday accepted unconditional apology of Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan in the contempt of court notice and issued another contempt of court notice for scandalizing the judiciary.

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the contempt of court notices to Firdous and the premier’s special assistant tendered an unconditional apology for ‘scandalising the judiciary’, which the high court later accepted.

During the hearing, Justice Athar said Awan had committed contempt of court on two counts — one for ridiculing the court for entertaining the case as a “special dispensation” and one for trying to influence a pending proceeding of the court related to the bail petition for Nawaz.

Firdous assured the court that she would be extremely careful in future and placed herself at the mercy of the court.

The IHC chief justice remarked that Prime Minister Imran Khan had fought for the rule of law, adding that he was sure that the premier had never instructed her to use such language against the court.

While accepting her apology for scandalizing the judiciary, the court issued Awan a fresh contempt notice and directed her to satisfy the court that her press conference was not intended to influence a pending court proceeding.

The chief justice said to this extent, unconditional apology of the Special Assistant to PM on Information is accepted. However, he said that Dr Firdous has to satisfy that her statements made during the press conference were not intended to prejudice the pending proceedings before this court.

The notice said that Dr Firdous in her press conference on 29th October made a statement regarding an interim order passed by the IHC in a pending criminal appeal ‘Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif vs NAB.

“You publicly attempted to give an impression, as if this court extends some special dispensation to the appellant Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, which amounts to prejudicing the pending proceedings.”

“By doing so, you prima facie made an attempt to influence proceedings of pending appeal and acted with intent to divert the course of justice and thereby committed a criminal contempt within the meaning of clause (b) of Section 2 and Section 6 of Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 punishable under 5,” said the notice.

The court directed her to explain in writing within three days and appear in-person on November 5, 2019 to explain as to why you may not be convicted for the offence of criminal contempt under Section 5 of Contempt Ordinance, 2003.

Justice Athar noted that prejudicing pending proceedings or attempting to influence the court in a matter pending before it adversely affects the right of fair trial of litigant.

The earlier show cause notice is, therefore, withdrawn and a fresh show cause notice is issued under Section 6 read with Section 5 of Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 for allegedly committing criminal contempt by prima facie, attempting to prejudice the pending proceedings and influencing the court.

The alleged contemnor is directed to submit her written reply on or before 04-11-2019. The office is directed to relist the petition on 05-11-2019.

Firdous is directed to appear in person on the next date of hearing.

Following the court proceedings, Awan arrived at and inspected a district court of the federal capital at F-8 Markaz, as per the IHC’s orders.