Islamabad-A Division Bench of the Islamabad High Court on Monday deferred the hearing of Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf leader Dr Shireen Mazari’s petition against Defense Minister Khawaja Asif for using insulting remarks against her.

The IHC dual bench comprising Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddqui and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani conducted hearing of the petition in which the bench had previously directed Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif to appear in person before the court on December 19.

However, the Defense Minister again did not appear before the court despite court’s orders on the previous hearing and his counsel sought adjournment of hearing in this matter. The court accepted his plea and adjourned the proceedings till January 12.

During the hearing, the dual bench observed that the court cannot force the parties to reconcile and now it would decide the matter on merit. Mazari had moved the court through her counsel Shoaib Razzaq Advocate and cited Federal Minister for Law & Justice Zahid Hamid, Federal Minister for Defense and Water & Power Khawaja Asif, Speaker National Assembly Ayyaz Sadiq and Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed as respondents.

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

The petitioner mentioned that Khawaja 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 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 Khawaja Asif are criminal in nature and are dealt under the 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 woman 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, Dr Shireen 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.