LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (lhs) yesterday ordered Advocate General Punjab office to file written reply in a contempt petition against Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for allegedly influencing court proceedings on a matter of Orange Line Metro Train Project by his speech.

During the course of hearing, Advocate Azhar Siddique, the counsel of Civil Society, told the judge that Shahbaz in his speech few days ago tried to influence courts’ proceeding in the matter of Orange Line project. He said it does not suit to a chief minister to give such remarks, otherwise, what will be the decorum and sanctity of a court before a layman.

A law officer, however, opposed his arguments saying that it is political issue and it does not mean that he tried to influence or attack courts’ proceedings. On it, the court asked the law officer to file written reply if it was a political issue. The court adjourned further hearing for Tuesday (tomorrow).

Kamil Khan Mumtaz and others had filed contempt petition against Punjab chief minister for allegedly speaking in a victorious mood over the matter of Orange Line Project. He stated the court had barred the government from carrying out the project but the CM openly said “he would not anyone hamper this public welfare project.”

The petitioners said when the chief minister of a province would not take care of the sensitivity of the case and integrity of the High Court, then how would a common man understand the importance of the grace and decorum of the courts.

The action and inactions of Shahbaz Sharif, prima facie, a contempt of court within the meaning of Article 204 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 for which punishment is provided under Section 5 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 whereof.

The petitioners said that CM speech badly affected their moral and it was a clear abortive and failed attempt to influence the court. They prayed to the court to restrain the chief minister and federal Ministers from use of any remarks and comments about the pending matter of the Orange Line Train Project.

Few days ago, Shahbaz Sharif while addressing a seminar on Orange Line Metro Train Project held at Aiwan-i-Iqbal had said that only a handful of elements were criticising this splendid project of improvement in living standard of poor people and provision of facilities to the masses. However, he said, the interest of people would be safeguarded at any cost.

Shahbaz had further said that he could sacrifice his life but not allow anyone to hamper this public welfare project. He would fight the persons opposing this project on every front, adding that it is war between progress and backwardness, prosperity and poverty, truth and falsehood, justice against injustice and he would stand by the poor masses like a rock.

Meanwhile, Asma Jahangir and Azhar Siddique advocates represented the civil society and other petitioners in the case. They said that the government authorities spoke lie regarding the project. They said initially it was claimed that the Orange Line Project was of $142 billions as it was signed in April last year but later it was revealed that it was of $160 billion and in September, again, the Punjab government claimed that it was of $160 billion. They said according to PC-1, Orange Line project was of $160 billion but later the government when claimed that it was $142 billion it told lie and committed violation of law. The petitioners’ counsel further argued that all agreements including land acquisition were illegal as these were not transparent. They said the government had shown Metro Bus Authority as authority of the Orange Line Project but the fact is that it was meant for running metro busses and not train, so it was also illegal.

After hearing arguments, the LHC adjourned Orange Line case for tomorrow (Tuesday).