LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday came down hard upon interior minister Ahsan Iqbal for his “contemptuous statement, he gave in reaction to the remarks of Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar about his (minister) role in appointment of a woman teacher as vice chancellor of a women university.

The three-member bench led by Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi also directed the minister to submit written reply rather than the oral explanation about his “contemptuous statement”. The court also directed its own staff for display of projector for screening of the “controversial clip” of the minister in court room.

“We just want to see it for our own knowledge,” Justice Naqvi, the head of the bench observed while rejecting the plea of Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar, the counsel of the minister, about not showing the video in the courtroom.

The bench snubbed the minister, and referred to Article 68 of the Constitution that when “the conduct of a superior court judge could not be discussed even in the parliament then how did you do that before the public,”.

“I can’t even think about disgracing the courts and I just said so in a way of “Shikwa”(complaint). CJP has also said so. Being a citizen, I just did a complaint,” Ahsan Iqbal explained his position, standing there with his fractured arm.   

At this, one member of the bench observed that “It’s because of your motivation that Kasur incident took place wherein the derogatory language was used against the judiciary,”.  The minister said, “No, We can’t even think about that,”.  At this, the judge asked him, “ You are a minister and have you taken any action against these Kasur people? ,”.

“It’s in the provincial domain. We had taken strict action if such incident would have happened in Islamabad. And yes, we took action against a group of protestors who gathered outside the Supreme Court and they were booked,” the minister replied.

“Then what happened?” Justice Naqvi asked him who replied, “They would have been caught,” . “Oh! They would have caught. You are minister and you don’t have the information,” the judge expressed the anger.

Referring to the minster’s explanation that he came to Pakistan to serve the country after getting education in the US, the judge said, “You used to study in the US. Do you know what Article 19 is?,” . The minister replied: “I studied engineering. I wish I would have been a lawyer,”.

“Tone down your voice !,” Justice Naqvi reprimanded the minister when he spoke to explain his position.

“You are a politician and don’t you know the ‘expression’?” the judge further said and asked Advocate Azhar Siddique, the petitioner’s counsel, to read Article 19 of the Constitution before the minister so that he could know the respect of the state institutions.

The minister said, “I reiterate that I hold the judiciary in high esteem and don’t have any such intention and also could never think about disgracing the courts and state institutions,”.

He also narrated the whole incident of attack and how he escaped and also about performing Umra last week.

The bench gave direction for screening of the “contemptuous clip” in the open court. Tarar, the respondent’s counsel, pleaded the court not to show the clip in the courtroom.

“My lord, nothing is in it; I have seen it, please, your kindness, don’t order for it,” Tarar kept pleading the bench.  He also tried to seek sufficient time, saying that “I’ll be engaged in the Supreme Court next week, schedule is very tight;  kindly give me more time,”.  However, the court observed that why the previous order was not complied with so far, directed the counsel to come up with written reply and adjourned the hearing until June 5.   

The same court had been hearing six other cases including the anti-judiciary speeches of former PM Nawa Sharif, his daughter Maryam Safdar, the case against Pemra, the Kasur rally case and also the cases against MQM London Chief.