ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday deferred indictment in the contempt of court case against former chief justice of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Rana Shamim and other accused till Jan 20.
The court had resumed hearing of the case earlier today under IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah.
On Dec 28, 2021, the IHC decided to indict Shamim along with other accused in the contempt of court case on January 7. The high court had initiated proceedings against Shamim, investigative reporter Ansar Abbasi, editor-in-chief of a national daily, and its resident editor after an affidavit was published in the newspaper that accused former chief justice Saqib Nisar of influencing the case against ex-PM Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.
During the hearing, Justice Athar Minallah said the court initiated the proceedings in the case because an impression was being given that the court had been compromised. “This court is presenting itself for self-accountability,” he added.
The IHC CJ said he couldn’t comment on things happening outside the high court but he was only concerned with the IHC.
Rana Shamim’s lawyer Latif Afridi said his client didn’t share the affidavit with anyone. When Ansar Abbasi had approached him for a version, he was told that the affidavit was a private document, Afridi added.
As per Rana Shamim, the document could have been leaked by the notary public. At this, the court asked did Shamim send notices to Abbasi or the notary public? Afridi said this was Shamim’s own issue as he was not hired to argue on that issue.
He said Shamim got to know of the leaking of his affidavit after it was published in the newspaper. “Shamim will take action against those who [allegedly] leaked his affidavit after getting free from these proceedings,” Afridi added.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Minallah observed that the court believed in the freedom of expression. He noted that a “narrative” was being built regarding a bench of the high court comprising him, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Mian Gul Hassan Aurangzeb — which is hearing a petition seeking the formation of an independent commission to ascertain the authenticity of an alleged audio of Nisar and probe certain events before and after Nawaz Sharif’s conviction — that judges “made decisions under pressure”.
The people’s trust was being eroded because of such news items, he added.
Addressing Abbasi, Justice Minallah said the court was not questioning the journalist’s integrity but trying to make him realise the effect of the news story.
The judge noted that Abbasi had said the newspaper would have published the affidavit even if it “may be wrong”. He asked if the newspaper did not know what case the story about the affidavit would influence, in an apparent reference to Maryam Nawaz’s ongoing appeal against her conviction in the Avenfield reference.
“Either you (Abbasi) say you did not know [about the influence the story would have] … let us frame charges, then you can present your stance,” the judge said in response to Abbasi’s request to not indict him.
Justice Minallah observed that the public’s rights were most important to the court. Recalling the details of the case, Justice Minallah said that a judge had allegedly spoken to CJP Nisar but he was not part of the bench hearing the case against Nawaz and his daughter.
Justice Kayani and Justice Aurangzeb were part of the bench and the appeals were later heard by my bench, Justice Minallah noted. “This narrative can affect all three of us. The cases being heard by the [judges] mentioned in the story were fixed for two days later (from the date in the report).
“The court has tried to make you understand what mistake you made during the entire hearing,” the IHC judge said.
It is stated that Rana Shamim, took the oath and signed an affidavit in the office of none other than Mian Nawaz Sharif, trying to incriminate former chief justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and honourable sitting judges of IHC.
In the evidence available, Charles Guthrie; a UK Solicitor confirmed that ‘Judge Guy’ was at ‘Marble Arch’. During the last hearing, however, Shamim was questioned about the report published in this paper. In his reply to the reporter, Justice (retd) Shamim said that he was alone at the time of signing the affidavit.