Revisiting Contempt Law
Islamabad—The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice Friday decided to invite representatives of Pakistan Bar Council, bar bodies and all stake holders for wider discussion to amend the Contempt of Court Law. The amendment Bill was moved by Senator Farhatullah Babar as a private member Bill.
Explaining the rationale, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the basic purpose of the Bill was not to seek its immediate adoption but to initiate a wider discussion on the issue. The Contempt Law should not only protect the dignity of the courts but also that of the litigants, he said. A wider public discourse will help examine whether the existing law needed amendments in the definition of contempt, who is liable to have committed contempt as well as punishments for various acts of contempt.
The dignity of honorable judges must rest more on their conduct and on the speaking nature of their orders rather than on a law that was too wide open in some respects and too restrictive in some others. Glory and majesty of courts demands that at no stage honorable judges should appear to have an eye on television sound bytes and newspaper headlines while addressing litigants during proceedings.
Judges must be protected by law from any disrespectful and offensive behavior towards them and this protection should also be available equally to litigants. Explaining the need for broad based consultation he said while later talking to the media that in 2012 the previous government legislated the Contempt of Court Act but it did not have the support of all parties and was subsequently struck down by the court. Wider consultation involving all parties and stake holders was therefore necessary to make any amendments.
He said that the decision today by the senate committee sends a powerful message to all that the parliament deemed it necessary to initiate consultation for revisiting the contempt law. The statement of objects and reasons states that adhocism in higher judiciary had negative impact on the dispensation of justice as well as independence of the judicature.—INP