IHC dismisses case as Imaan Mazari regrets her defamatory remarks

ISLAMABAD – The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Monday quashed a case registered against a lawyer Imaan Mazari-Hazir for allegedly ‘abusing and defaming   senior command of the Pakistan Army.’

A single bench of IHC,  comprising Chief Justice   Athar Minallah conducted hearing of the petition moved by Mazari praying to the court to quash the FIR registered against her by the Judge Advocate General (JAG) branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces,  and directed to quash the case after she expressed ‘regret’  over her earlier remarks against the institution.

The Pakistan Army had filed a first information report against Imaan for ‘abusing and defaming’ the army. The petitioner was booked under sections 505 and 138 (abetment of act of insubordination by soldier) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

During the hearing, the IHC Chief Justice accepted Imaan’s application against the registration of   case against her and remarked that Imaan had already expressed regret for what she had said earlier.

The counsel for Imaan adopted the stance that her client had said on the first day of the trial that her words were not justified.

The counsel for defence ministry said that Imaan should apologise for her statement in the press. However, the IHC chief justice said that the advocate had apologised to the court and one should also keep in mind the circumstances regarding Imaan’s mother on the day the statement was made.

The ministry’s counsel said that Imaan was like a daughter for him but her previous conduct should also be looked at. Her lawyer then stated that they became part of the investigation despite having reservations about the court’s directives. However, the counsel for the JAG branch argued that the word forgiveness was not mentioned even once in the reply submitted by Mazari. He added   if she has to apologise, she should do so in front of the media.

Later, the IHC bench accepted Imaan’s petition and issued direction to quash the case against her.

Earlier, the petitioner submitted her statement to the IHC in which she said that the allegations against her were ‘baseless’.

She stated in her petition that on 21.05.2022, the petitioner’s mother became the subject of an unlawful arrest, which left the petitioner distraught. “The petitioner had been informed by her mother, in advance of this illegal arrest, that the latter had been involved in a couple of heated altercations with the COAS, though the petitioner had no knowledge of the content of the conversations,” said the petitioner.

IHC CJ accepts Imaan’s application against registration of case against her and remarked she already expressed regret for what she had said earlier

It added, “  This suspicion that someone influential was behind the arrest was strengthened by the bizarre attitude of the relevant police officials and various government officials who stated that they were unaware of the petitioner’s mother’s whereabouts, and refused to divulge any information regarding the aforesaid arrest.”

She stated, “Distressed at the aforesaid statements of the authorities and being aware of the context leading to her mother’s unlawful arrest, the petitioner, when approached by various individuals (including court reporters), voiced her suspicions regarding the possible perpetrators behind her mother’s disappearance. The only concern which the petitioner had in that moment was the safe return of her mother and the initiation of a lawful inquiry into the reasons behind her mother’s illegal arrest.”

She contended that the impugned FIR is liable to be quashed for being merely a malicious attempt at silencing the petitioner and curbing her right under Article 19 to express herself.

Imaan further said that though there are restrictions upon a person’s right to freedom of speech, the bounds are not narrow enough to prohibit a statement merely critiquing one public official. She added that an interpretation as confined as the one implied by the FIR would tantamount to suggesting that the armed forces are so weak as to disintegrate on the basis of a mere comment uttered in the heat of the moment.

She continued that any such interpretation would amount to a draconian curb on a person’s right to expression, in addition to being an absurd dismissal of the credibility of the armed forces as an institution of this country.  She prayed to the court to declare that the impugned FIR was registered without lawful authority and declare that the impugned FIR is a product of mala fide. She also requested the court to quash the impugned FIR and any proceedings initiated on the basis thereof.

 

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