Notices to all parties
issued in Nisar/Shamim
case to appear on Nov 26

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday served show-cause notices on all parties in a case pertaining to the serious allegations levelled against the former chief justice of Pakistan, Mian Saqib Nisar, by the ex-chief justice of Gilgit-Baltistan Justice (retd) Rana Shamim.

A day earlier, the IHC had summoned ex-CJ GB, editor-in-chief of The News, editor of the newspaper and journalist Ansar Abbasi today (Tuesday), however, Shamin wasn’t present in the court. Attorney-General Khalid Javed Khan and Islamabad Advocate-General Niazullah Niazi were also present in the IHC.

Islamabad High Court

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. Rana Shamim went to New York to attend a conference and returned yesterday ad also not well.

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.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah

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.

According to a report published in The News, the 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.

The IHC had summoned Rana Shamim, editor-in-chief of The News, editor of the newspaper and journalist Ansar Abbasi on Tuesday, however, Shamin wasn’t present in court. 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.

Rana Shamim absent from court

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.

Former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, former Chief Judge Gilgit & Baltistan Rana Shamim and journalist Ansar Abbasi

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.

Court summons Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman

According to Geo News, 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.

ISLAMABAD: Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, Editor-in-Chief, Jang Group, journalists Ansar Abbasi and others are coming to Islamabad High Court on Tuesday.

“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.

IHC CJ to Ansar Abbasi

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.

ISLAMABAD: Journalists and others coming to Islamabad High Court on Tuesday.

“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.

According to Dawn, he also questioned whether a newspaper’s editorial policy allowed it to publish a story on its front page which cited an affidavit that was filed in London, and directed Abbasi to read the headline of the story out loud.

The story in question was titled “Ex-CJ GB claims in signed affidavit: ‘Saqib Nisar directed not to release Nawaz, Maryam before 2018 elections'”.

“This affidavit is not a part of any court record. Where was this notarised?” Justice Minallah asked, adding that this concerned the credibility of the higher courts.

It is pertinent to mention here that the affidavit in question was notarised by Charles D. Guthrie, a London-based solicitor. A day earlier, when reached for comment, Guthrie told Dawn.com he cannot comment on the document.

On July 6, 2018, an accountability court had sentenced Nawaz, Maryam and son-in-law Mohammad Safdar to 10 years, seven years and 1 year imprisonment, respectively, after finding them guilty in the Avenfield properties reference. They were later arrested upon their arrival in Lahore from London on July 13.

The verdict had come days before the 2018 general elections held on July 25, later that month. Subsequently, all three had appealed the verdict, with the IHC suspending their sentences and ordering their release on September 19, 2018 until the final judgement.

Nawaz was later sentenced to seven years jail time in another case — Al-Azizia Steel Mills/Hill Metal Establishment reference — on December 24, 2018. The former premier spent almost 11 months in prison, before being allowed to travel to London for medical reasons for four weeks. He has not returned since.

Meanwhile, coming down hard on the senior journalist, the IHC CJ questioned whether he had checked the date of the court’s order against Maryam and Nawaz. “You are an expert at investigating, did you investigate yourself?”

He also asked Abbasi whether he had checked who was part of the bench hearing the cases against the PML-N leaders, adding that he and Justice Aamer Farooq were abroad when the appeal was filed and the case was fixed for hearing. “Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan were present in the country at the time. Did you inquire about this from the high court registrar?”

He observed that noted lawyers were part of the case against the PML-N leaders. “Did you ask them if they had requested for a date before the general elections?”

He said that Khawaja Haris was the petitioner at the time. “Did you check with him about the bench hearing the case?” He remarked that “scandals” were being perpetuated to ruin people’s trust in the country’s institutions. “If another judge spoke like this in front of me I would get in touch with the Supreme Judicial Council,” he said.

“A person witnesses the CJP asking someone to commit a crime. The person stays silent for three years and an affidavit concerning the incident surfaces. How can a newspaper publish such a document?” he asked.

When Abbasi requested for permission to speak in court, the IHC CJ replied “you have already caused enough damage”. “I was the one who gave the story, you can take action against me,” the senior journalist said, adding that he had done so in an effort to protect the sanctity of the court.

“A former GB judge is levelling an allegation against a former CJP. Take action against me but also carry out an investigation,” Abbasi said.

During the hearing, Shamim’s lawyer also asked the IHC CJ whether the court would take notice of the statements made by Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda. According to news reports, the minister had stated that the former judge should be hanged and flogged in public for levelling the allegations against Nisar.

However, the court refused to include it in the case and told Shamim’s lawyer to file a separate appeal.