ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Talal Chaudhry to adjourn the contempt of court proceedings against him until the general elections.

While rejecting the plea, the top court observed that it shall decide the case in one or two hearings.

The top court, however, exempted the PM-N leader from appearing before the court at the next hearing.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed took up the contempt case.  During the hearing, one of the defence witnesses recorded his statement on an affidavit.

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) official, Muhammad Tahir, the defence witness, in his statement testified that the authority had not received any complaint against Chaudhry until May 22 regarding his alleged anti-judiciary tirade.

He further stated that the authority had received complaints against PML-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and former minister Ahsan Iqbal on their alleged derogatory remarks against the judiciary.

Justice Ahmed snubbed the witness and told him not to deliver speeches and answer the questions specifically. The defence witness was cross-examined by the prosecution. Tahir also stated that the scrutiny of transcripts did not fall under his purview.

After the defence witness recorded the statement, Chaudhry requested the bench to allow him for some submissions. He complained that the media publish a news item and gave the impression to annoy the court.

Chaudhry said that his political opponents in their political campaign were propagating, before each hearing, that he will be disqualified by the court soon on the grounds of contempt charges.

He further brought to the notice of the bench that the electoral process and the process of nomination papers were underway.

He requested the bench to adjourn the hearing of the case until completion of elections which will not only help him in running his election campaign but will also help avoid the perception created by his opponents.

Justice Ahmed told Chaudhry that he was a seasoned politician and could manage to perform different tasks on his own.

The judge further observed that the court shall decide the matter in one or two hearings.

Exempting Chaudhry for a one-day hearing, the top court directed him to produce his defence witnesses at the next hearing. 

Advocate Kamran Murtaza, the counsel for the PM-N leader, will produce defence witnesses at the next date of hearing on June 28.

On March 15, the top court had indicted Chaudhry for allegedly committing contempt of court during his two speeches which he made on January 24 and January 27.

Chaudhry had allegedly incited the masses during a public gathering of PM-N Quaid Nawaz Sharif to oust the “idols of PCO judges” from the Supreme Court.

Chaudhry had already recorded his statement in the case under Section 342 of CrPC on May 21.

In his statement, Chaudhry stated that the inference drawn from the speech and press talk was incorrect and the press talk on January 24 in Faisalabad was edited and manipulated and many of the sentences had been omitted.

Regarding the speech on January 27, he said that the telecast speech was also incorrect, manipulated and broadcast out of context. “In the speech of January 27, I did not quote anything about judges and the court,” he said adding neither the DVDs of speeches of both occasions contain full reference nor the transcript provided matched with the video.

He stated that the sentences regarding attributing judges to idols were spoken by him but the reference to the context was not brought on the record.

“I have not committed contempt of court. The word PCO used in the speech is part of history and the reference to the PCO was merely symbolic and it was being maintained in previous speeches during the lawyers’ movement and that aspect has also been dealt with in the Charter of Democracy,” said Chaudhary. 

He also negated the assertion that he through the speeches attempted to scandalize the courts and created hatred towards courts among the general public.

“I have made thousands of speeches but up till now, no institution or even opponent issued any legal notice. I am not a habitual offender,” he further stated.