Islamabad - A division bench (DB) of Islamabad High Court on Thursday conducted hearing of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Dr Shireen Mazari’s petition against Defence Minister Khawaja Asif for using insulting remarks against her and directed her counsel to assist the court that under the law whether this misbehaviour is a criminal act.

The dual bench further said that when National Assembly speaker had expunged the remarks from the proceedings then what is the legal position of this matter?

After issuing the aforementioned directions, the DB comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani deferred hearing in this matter till January 14 for further proceedings.

During the hearing, the counsel for Mazari, Shoaib Razzaq Advocate contended before the court that Asif during assembly session used derogatory remarks insulting her.  He said that his client filed applications before the privilege committee of National Assembly and to the ministry of law as well but no action was taken on these applications so far.

At this, the court asked him to assist that whether the act of alleged misbehave could be termed as a criminal act? The bench remarked that Islam teaches us to respect the women. Since the petitioner is a woman and member of the National assembly, so we respect her more. It added that the court would hear this matter with due respect and then it will be decided.

Mazari had moved the court through her counsel and cited Federal Minister for Law and Justice, Zahid Hamid, Federal Minister for Defence and Water and Power Khawaja Asif, Speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq and Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed as respondents.

Mazari requested the court to reinterpret Article 69 of the Constitution that imposes a bar on constitutional courts to question about validity of the parliamentary proceedings. 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 work place.

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, Asif made derogatory, defamatory, unwarranted and ill-founded remarks against her, which were a testament of a libertine.

The petitioner mentioned that Asif while addressing to the speaker made following remarks on her, firstly by saying “ae tractor trolley nou we chup karwaoo zara” (order this tractor trolley to shut her mouth). Secondly “ghar in sae sambhalay nai jatae” (that she cannot manage her family implying that she cannot manage her private affairs, so how is she capable to talk and represent on behalf of the people of her constituency). And thirdly “make her voice more feminine.”

She argued that the remarks made by him are criminal in nature and are dealt under Pakistan Penal Code 1860, as he has defamed the appellant which comes under section 500, has intentionally insulted the petitioner with an intent to provoke breach of peace which comes under section 504, has acted to insult the modesty of a women which comes under section 509 and has verbally harassed her which created a hostile working environment for her and thus comes under The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act 2010.

“That there are numerous jurisdictions where such a conduct is held accountable, prominently in Turkey where parliamentary immunity was removed in May, 2016. In Ukraine it has been held that the Peoples Deputies of Ukraine are immune to what they say and how they vote in the Parliament, except the responsibility for an insult or defamation. But most prominently the Head of European Union, Germany, has categorically embedded in their constitution under article 46 that the Deputy shall not be exempted from defamatory insults,” maintained the petitioner. 

Therefore, Mazari prayed to the court to set aside single bench order, reinterpret the provisions of Article 69 to safeguard the rights of female members and declare interpretation of the said article inconsistent with fundamental rights and Islamic Jurisprudence.