ISLAMABAD - Showing mercy, the top court on Tuesday withdrew contempt case against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nehal Hashmi and observed in loud and clear words that this restraint should not be perceived as a licence for others to use derogatory remarks against the judiciary.

The SC withdrew the contempt case against Hashmi after he tendered an unconditional apology in writing.

Bars representatives played vital role in convincing the top court to show restraint.

The court had issued a second contempt of court notice to Nehal Hashmi and an FIR was registered against him on court orders for his speech on February 28 targeting the judiciary.

Hashmi had made the speech after his release from Adiala Jail following a one-month prison sentence for contempt of court.

“I am highly regretful of my unbecoming conduct and submit my un-conditional apology and so place myself at the mercy of this Hon’ble Court for forgiveness,” Hashmi stated in his written apology.

“I solemnly assure and undertake that I will not give any cause of complaint of any sort in future to the Hon’ble Courts in respect of my conduct,” it said.

“It is, therefore, humbly prayed that my unconditional apology may very kindly be accepted and the proceedings of contempt of court initiated against me, may graciously be dropped,” Hashmi prayed.

Earlier in the day, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar resumed hearing, while bars representatives appear before the bench to apprise the court of their opinion in deciding the fate of Nehal Hashmi.

Supreme Bar Association (SCBA) President Pir Syed Kalim Khurshid, former president SCBA Rashid A Rizvi, Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Vice Chairman Kamran Murtaza, former vice chairman PBC Ahsan Bhoon, senior lawyer Naeem Bukhari and others appeared before the court.

Khurshid submitted that he had no words that could justify the act adding it would be failure if the lawyers could not protect the integrity of the institution.

The way this institution was insulted is our insult, he added.

Whatever Hashmi said was unjust to the institution, Khurshid said requesting the court to show magnanimity and take a lenient view.

The PBC Vice Chairman, Murtaza, said that unfortunately he had remained counsel for Hashmi in earlier contempt case adding that such act could not be defended.

The entire bar on behalf of Hashmi seeks pardon from this court, he said.

Murtaza had earlier also withdrew his representation from defending Hashmi.

Likewise, former SCBAP president Rashid A Rizvi informed the court that the Sindh Bar Council had suspended the license of Hashmi for three months, adding that the matter had also been forwarded to the tribunal so as to let the law take its own course.

“A day ago, I stated before the bench that [the] dignity of our profession is due to dignity of this institution,” said Rizvi, adding that Hashmi’s act could not be defended from any aspect. 

Former chairman PBC Ahsan Bhoon on his turn stated that such act was highly condemnable at any standard, adding that legal fraternity was part and parcel of the court and it was standing behind the judiciary.

He further said that the act of abusing judges could not be expected from a normal person and it was conversation of “abnormal man”.

Bhoon said that the court had to exhibit magnanimity so once the bar had taken action, then the court might graciously grant the pardon.

However, Naeem Bukhari, who was counsel for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman, Imran Khan, in the Panama Papers case, took a different view and stated that he could not be a hypocrite and would give his straightforward opinion.

He expressed his concern and stated that it would become a precedent if pardon was granted, adding that a senior lawyer should be more responsible in his acts.

Bukhari added that when Hashmi was released from jail after punishment in contempt case he was portrayed as a hero.

“I am endorsing what your friends said. I do not want to give punishment of you faults to your children,” said chief justice while taking lenient view.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial, member of the bench, observed that it should be kept in mind while writing apology that Hashmi was justifying his acts in previous hearings so he needed to take a responsibility before the court for what he had committed.

The chief justice, however, made it clear that pardon of Hashmi should not be made as precedent for future.