Tuesday Nov 16, 2021
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued show-cause notices to all parties during a hearing of the case relating to the allegations against ex-CJP Saqib Nisar by former chief justice of Gilgit-Baltistan Justice (retd) Rana Shamim.
The IHC had summoned Shamim, editor-in-chief of The News, editor of the newspaper and journalist Ansar Abbasi today (Tuesday), however, Shamin wasn't present in court.
Meanwhile, Aamir Ghauri, the editor of Jang Group and editor of The News, appeared in court with The News editor investigation Ansar Abbasi.
Attorney-General Khalid Javed Khan and Islamabad Advocate-General Niazullah Niazi were also present in court.
According to a report published in The News, then CJP Saqib Nisar had directed a high court judge to not release Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz on bail at any cost before the 2018 General Elections.
“Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif must remain in jail until the general elections are over. On assurances from the other side, he (Saqib Nisar) became calm and happily demanded another cup of tea,” this is what was said in the affidavit of the former top judge of GB talking about the then chief justice of Pakistan.
During the hearing, apologising for his father's absence, Shamim's son asked the court staff for permission to play a video in the courtroom, but it was denied.
Shamim's lawyer appeared in court on his behalf and was questioned over the former GB chief justice's absence.
The lawyer informed the court that Shamim wasn't feeling well as he had arrived last night from Arifwala. He said Shamim's brother had passed away.
During the hearing, he requested IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah to issue another notice against Faisal Vawda as he had passed irrelevant statements against Shamim.
The IHC chief justice replied to the request by saying that they can file a separate petition in this regard and that this shouldn't be mixed with this case.
The attorney-general was asked what would be the result if Shamim's affidavit proves to be false.
The attorney-general highlighted the importance of timing in this matter.
"Shamim's brother died on November 6 and he went to London and took the oath on November 10," he said, adding that that the timing of the affidavit is very important.
The IHC CJ called the editor-in-chief of Jang Group to the rostrum.
"I have summoned you with a heavy heart," Justice Minallah said.
The court said there is a difference between social media and newspapers, adding that a newspaper has an editorial policy and editorial control.
The IHC CJ maintained that if he did not trust his judges, he wouldn't have started the proceeding.
"The judges of this court are accountable and face criticism," Justice Minallah said, adding that if the people do not trust the judiciary, there will be chaos in society.
He recalled that a propaganda campaign was launched against him on social media that he had taken a flat in the UK. "If a former chief justice gives an affidavit, will you print it on the front page?" he questioned.
Justice Minallah said: "Please hold us [judges] accountable, but don't create controversies".
The court sought a reply from all parties in seven days, and ordered them to appear in person on November 26.
On IHC's decision to adjourn the hearing till November 26, the AG informed the court that he will not be there at the next hearing, to which Justice Minallah asked him to appoint a representative in his place.
"You are not a messenger. I am asking you what did you do?" the IHC chief justice said to Abbasi, asking him to read out the headline of his story.
"Our court is accountable before the petitioner," the judge said.
He once again directed Abbasi to read out the headline of his story published in The News.
"Do you think the judges of our court take instructions from anyone? Justice Minallah questioned, saying that this affidavit is not part of any judicial record.
The IHC chief justice further asked Abbasi whether he had investigated why the affidavit was notarized in London. He also asked Abbasi if he had checked when the decision of the Avenfield case was announced.
"Justice Aamer Farooq and I were abroad on leave at that time," Justice Minallah said, sharing that Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb had conducted the preliminary hearing.
At this, Abbasi asked if he could say something.
"What can you say, you have already caused the harm you had to cause," the IHC CJ responded.
There is a fear that this affidavit is fake, the IHC CJ continued.
After being allowed to speak in court, Abbasi said he respects the IHC chief justice and the story was his and so if the court wants to take any action, it should be against him.
"The editor and editor-in-chief were not to be blamed in this matter," Abbasi told the court.
Justice Minallah told Abbasi that if he shows him any evidence that the judges, in this case, took instructions from anyone else, he will accept responsibility for it.
The IHC chief justice said that as far as social media is concerned, they have no editorial policy.
"I did the story and fulfilled all professional requirements," Abbasi said in his defence.
"This is not my statement. It belongs to the former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Gilgit-Baltistan.
"I am a journalist, my job is to convey the message. I also confirmed this from Shamim," he added.
Abbasi further added that he did not even mention the name of the high court judge in his story.
However, Justice Minallah said that this charge has been levelled against the court, it has been alleged that [the] High Court takes directions from others; hence, "we will not compromise on the dignity of this court."
"We had no such intention as you think," Justice Minallah told Abbasi, adding that it is constantly being reported that it was said that do not release them [Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz] before the election.
"At least you should have asked our registrar," Justice Minallah said.