ISLAMABAD – The Islamabad High Court on Friday rejected a petition seeking contempt proceedings against PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for scandalising remarks against the former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the ruling on the petition filed by Advocate Kulsoom Khaliq.
Earlier this month, Abbasi urged the court to take suo motu notice of allegations made by former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan, Rana Shamim, against Nisar regarding involvement in denial of bail to Nawaz Sharif and Maryam ahead of general elections 2018.
If Nawaz Sharif can be sent to jail, why can’t Mian Saqib Nisar? the PML-N leader questioned after Shamim’s affidavit made the headlines in the country.
Rejecting the petition, the IHC chief justice said that contempt proceedings could not be initiated since ex-CJP Nisar did not hold any judicial office and he is now a private citizen.
“Such a person is no more a member of the ‘Court’ in the context of Article 204 of the Constitution nor under the Ordinance of 2003,” Justice Minallah wrote in the verdict.
As a private citizen, “it remains open to a retired judicial officer to seek remedies available in a court of law. However, the offence of contempt is not attracted in the case of a retired judge because after retirement the latter attains the status of a private citizen,” he added.
Justice Minallah said that judges were entrusted with an “onerous duty to serve the people through the fountain of justice and they are not immune from public scrutiny nor criticism”.
“An independent judge would not be influenced nor affected in any other manner because of public criticism,” he continued.
“In the case in hand, the petitioner seems to be hurt because a former Chief Justice of Pakistan has been publicly criticised in his individual capacity. This definitely does not attract the offence of contempt,” the order read.