ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court issuing show cause notices to five senior leaders of Pakistan People’s Party Wednesday directed them to submit their replies by January 13.

Babar Awan, Religious Affairs Minister Syed Khurshid Shah, Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, PPP Information Secretary Qamar Zaman Kaira and Advisor to Prime Minister Farooq Awan have been asked to explain as to why the court should not initiate contempt proceedings against them for ridiculing the court’s Dec 1, 2011 order in memo case.

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Ahmad and Justice Athar Saeed heard the case of alleged use of contemptuous language against the judiciary by senior PPP leaders in a press conference at Press Information Department (PID). The court noted that sufficient material was available on record, which warranted initiation of contempt of court proceedings against those who arranged and addressed the press conference against the judicial order.

The court asked the Attorney General Pakistan (AGP) Maulvi Anwarul Haq to tell them to whom these foul mouths were representing  PPP or the federal government, and who had managed and addressed the press conference at PID.

The AGP however stated that he had already submitted reply of the prime minister over the matter. He read out the prime minister’s reply submitted before the court on Dec 26, stating that whatever was stated in the press conference was the stance of PPP and the government could not even think about ridiculing the court.

“Whether challenging the independence, neutrality and impartiality of the court was not contempt of the court,” Justice Muhammad Ather Saeed questioned the AGP. At the court order, attorney general also read out contents of the press conference in which derogatory remarks were used against the judiciary. The court noted that there were several contents, which attracted contempt of the court proceedings. Justice Ather Saeed observed that the order of the court was criticised ‘contemptuously’. He said government functionaries ridiculed the judiciary in flagrant violation of the dignity of the court. The case was adjourned till January 13.

Speaking at the said press conference these PPP leaders had severely criticised the Supreme Court saying that by ordering the probe into the memo issue the court had denied the right of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security to hold an inquiry on the scandal. Babar Awan said: “The government will neither surrender the supremacy of parliament nor its authority.” Dr Firdous said something unique happened on Constitution Avenue where the staff of the Supreme Court gave protocol to Nawaz Sharif, the ‘VIP petitioner’ of the memo case while others with him were also allowed to enter the premises of the court without invitation cards.

After the restoration of the judiciary in 2009, the court has already initiated contempt of court proceedings against three other PPP leaders, namely Rehman Malik, Taj Haider and Sharjeel Memon in different matters. Rehman Malik was issued contempt of court notice for removing Tariq Khosa from the position of FIA DG when Khosa was investigating the Steel Mills corruption, while Taj Haider and Sharjeel Memon were issued contempt of court notices for protesting against the apex court judgment on dismissal of NAB Chairman Justice (r) Deedar Hussain Shah.