ISLAMABAD- A Division Bench of the Islamabad High Court yesterday directed the Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif to appear in person before the court on December 19 in Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Dr Shireen Mazari’s petition against him for using insulting remarks against her.

The IHC division bench comprising of Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddqui and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani conducted hearing of the petition moved by Mazari and issued abovementioned directions after the defence minister failed to appear before the bench in this matter.

Previously, the court had directed both the parties to appear before the court on the next hearing. 

However, when the court resumed the hearing on Thursday, the counsel for the defence minister told the court that his client was busy in a meeting and for this reason; he could not appear before the court.

At this juncture, Justice Siddiqui remarked that the defence minister is bound to comply with court orders even if it’s a cabinet meeting or any other.

Later, the IHC dual bench directed Khawaja Asif to appear in person before the court on the next date of hearing to be held on December 19.

Mazari had moved the court through her counsel Shoaib Razzaq Advocate and cited Federal Minister for Law & Justice, Zahid Hamid, Federal Minister for Defence and Water & Power Khawaja Asif, Speaker National Assembly Ayyaz Sadiq and Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Sheikh Aftab Ahmed as respondents. Shireen requested the court in her ICA to reinterpret Article 69 of the constitution that imposes a bar on constitutional courts to question about validity of the parliamentary proceeding.

She continued that the said interpretation of the Article 69 is inconsistent with the issues related to fundamental rights, defamation and laws against harassment of women at workplace.

It was October 5 when an IHC bench had turned down her petition by terming it as non-maintainable while observing that Article 69 of the Constitution bars the courts to inquire into the proceedings of the Majlis-e-Shoora. 

In her ICA, she has alleged that on June 8, 2016 during a scheduled National Assembly session PML-N federal minister Khawaja Asif made derogatory, defamatory, unwarranted and ill-founded remarks against her, which were a testament of a libertine. She adopted that the comments were discriminatory and bigoted because the appellant was specifically singled out on basis of her gender and it was a malicious attempt to disparage her well-earned reputation in front of her fellow parliamentarians and the public at large.

In her ICA, Dr Mazari contended that the main purpose of the parliamentary privilege is to enable the Parliamentarians, to go about its business without interference from outside.