ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Thursday sustained another setback as its strong candidate from NA-77, Narowal-I, Daniyal Aziz, was disqualified by the Supreme Court for five years in a contempt case.

The top court convicted the PMLN’s outspoken leader who had been fielded against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Mian Rasheed. He was punished under Article 204 (2) (b) of the Constitution in the contempt of court case.

The conviction of the PML-N leader and former minister for privatisation has a direct bearing on his political career as he has been disqualified to hold a public office and contest any election for the next five years.

Article 62(1)(g) says: “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen, and from being a member of the Parliament, if he has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for propagating any opinion or acting in any manner prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or sovereignty or independence of judiciary of Pakistan or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the armed forces of Pakistan, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.”

The 17-page judgment stated the quoted material was contemptuous in nature and constituted the contempt of court as the factum of defaming, undermining and ridiculing the authority of the top court for which Aziz was charged with and scandalising a judge of the top court had been fully proven and established.

The top court, however, took a lenient view of the matter, convicting Aziz under Section 5 of the contempt of court and sentenced him with imprisonment till the rising of the bench.

“We are satisfied that the contempt committed by the alleged contemnor (Aziz) for which he is charged with has been proven to have been committed, which is substantially detrimental to the administration of justice and tantamount to scandalising the court.”

According to charge (i), Aziz had uttered the words stating that Jahangir Khan Tareen was sacrificed to guard PTI Chairman Imran Khan and his party, which was according to script.”

Likewise, charge (ii) is regarding the speech wherein Aziz scandalised Justice Ijazul Ahsan, one of the members of a five-judge bench which heard the Panama Papers case and a monitoring judge of the same case.

The top court, which reserved its judgment on May 3, was supposed to announce it at 9am, but Aziz did not reached the court and the bench decided that the judgment would be announced in the presence of the accused.

The firebrand who had always been on the frontline during the Panama Papers case in front of cameras appeared in Court Room No 3 with no party leader or worker at 9:51am while the bench was hearing the Employees Old-Age Benefit Institution’s pension case and the courtroom was filled with pensioners, lawyers and officials of the EOBI and a private bank.

The anxious Aziz was offered a seat, but he refused to sit after looking at the police personnel who were standing there. However, Aziz came from behind the wall, a separation in the courtroom where cabinets are placed with hundreds of law books, and took a seat on the left side of the room.

The bench first heard all the fixed cases before the announcement of the judgment while Aziz kept waiting with palpable nervousness on his face.

When all the cases were heard, Justice Mushir Alam who was a member of the three-judge bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed in the contempt case announced the judgment.

The top court ruled that Aziz had made him liable to commission of the contempt of court within the contemplation of Article 204 (2)(b) of the Constitution read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, punishable under Section 5 of the said ordinance.

“We are fully aware of the fact that trial or contempt of court proceedings are not a strict criminal trial under Criminal Procedure Code, but are sui generis in nature partaking some of the elements of both civil and criminal proceedings,” the judgment said.

The top court in its judgment also made it clear that all the incriminating and contemptuous utterance reported in print and electronic media attributed to Aziz was brought on record and he was also provided a chance to defend himself to meet the ends of justice

“We found that the alleged contemnor is guilty of the charge to scandalise this court and its judges and bring its authority into hatred, ridicule and disrespect, thereby obstructing, interfering with and prejudicing the process of law and due course of proceedings of this court,” the judgment stated.

The judgment authored by Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, another member of the bench, observed that the ordinary and normal practice of the courts was to show judicial restraint in such matters.

“The utterance made by the alleged contemnor (Aziz) cannot be treated as just and fair comments on the judgment of the court and or on the conduct of the honorable judge of this court (Justice Ijazul Ahsan),” it observed.

“Even otherwise no such plea or defence was raised in the instant case by the alleged contemnor who had repeated his contemptuous behaviour and made repeated attempts and attacks on the judicial system, judiciary and one of the honorable judges of this court,” the verdict stated.

“A politician of the stature of alleged contemnor, having fairly a large public following and access to social media, print media and the electronic media by way of addressing public gatherings or press conferences is expected to be more careful in selection of words and should use a very guarded language being more exposed to the general public should act like role models of the masses, but an overall picture which appears on the canvas is very gloomy and melancholic, which is a very unfortunate.”

“Fair comments upon the general working of the court made in good faith in the public interest and intemperate language without impugning the integrity or impartiality of a judge would not amount to a contemptuous act,” the judgment stated.

It observed the purpose of contempt proceedings was not to wreck vengeance or it was never the question of the ego of a Judge to punish such person but to vindicate honour and dignity of the court so as to keep and strengthen the confidence of the general public in the judicial system.

 

 

SC deals another blow to PML-N