Contempt case: Imran Khan tenders unconditional apology for remarks about lady judge

Imran Khan contempt case

Islamabad: Chairman PTI Imran Khan on Thursday offered an unconditional apology in a contempt case for his remarks about Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry.

The Islamabad High Court was expected to formally charge Imran Khan today as it had decided to on September 8 after finding his response “unsatisfactory”.

A five-member bench, headed by IHC CJ Justice Athar Minallah, and comprising Justices Mohsin Akhtar Kay­ani, Miangul Hassan Aur­an­gzeb, Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, and Babar Sattar, unanimously decided to indict Imran Khan.

However, as the hearing began today, the former prime minister sought the Court’s permission to put his statement on the record, saying he was barred from speaking at the last hearing.

“I am ready to apologise to the female judge,” he told the court.

“The court thinks that I have crossed a line. My intention was not to threaten the female judge. It the court says so, I am ready to personally go to the judge and apologise,” he said.

“I assure the court that I will not do something like this in the future,” he added.

Following this, the IHC CJ remarked that it would not be appropriate to conduct contempt proceedings. The court decided to not indict the PTI chief after he agreed to apologise to Judge Chaudhry and the hearing was subsequently adjourned till September 26 (Monday).

The court also directed the PTI chief to submit an affidavit in light of his statement to the court.

IHC decides to indict Imran in contempt case on Sept 22

The Case

Imran Khan, while addressing a rally at F-9 park, in Islamabad, on August 20, alleged that Judge Zeba Chaudhry knew that incarcerated party leader Shahbaz Gill was tortured, but she did not release him on bail. He threatened to take “action” against the judge and the Islamabad IG and DIG police.

Following the speech, the IHC registrar Farhan Aziz Khawaja put up a note regarding the “threatening remarks” of the PTI leader about the lady judge before the then-acting Chief Justice Aamer Farooq.

After consultation with the other senior judges, the acting CJ served contempt of court notice on Imran Khan and formed a larger bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Babar Sattar, and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb to hear the contempt case.

Khan’s first response to show-cause notice

In his first response to the show-cause notice, Imran Khan told the IHC that due to “serious misunderstanding and misconception” he misunderstood that female Judge Zeba Chaudhry was not a judicial officer but an executive magistrate performing executive functions under the federal government’s directions.

In the response, he did not apologise for threatening the additional sessions judge, offering, however, to withdraw remarks “if they were inappropriate.”

“As someone who believes in rule of law and a strong independent justice system, the respondent does not believe in hurting the feelings of honourable judges,” the response had read.

IHC gives Imran Khan seven days to submit another response

On August 31, the IHC granted Chairman PTI Imran Khan seven days to submit another written response to the show-cause notice served on the former Prime Minister.

In his second response to the show-cause notice, the PTI Chairman said that he appreciated the second chance provided to him by the honourable court to “reflect upon the whole issue” and “submit a supplementary reply”.

Imran Khan said that he had profound regard and respect for this Honorable Court and its subordinate Courts and judges.

“The Respondent [Imran Khan] takes this opportunity to express his deep regrets over his unintentional utterances during the course of this speech at a rally which was taken out in response to the shocking news of physical torture of Shehbaz Gill,” the statement read.

It said that Imran Khan never meant to hurt her feelings, and if her feelings were hurt, it is deeply regretted.

However, in both responses, the PTI chairman did not offer an unconditional apology, which ultimately led to the court deciding amici curiae suggesting that the former prime minister be forgiven.

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