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SC summons Nehal Hashmi for review of contempt of court verdict – Pakistan

The Supreme Court on Tuesday screened former PML-N senator Nehal Hashmi’s most recent inflammatory speech — delivered after the PML-N leader completed his one-month sentence for contempt of court — and ordered that he appear before the court in person on Wednesday.

Nehal Hashmi, after his release from Adiala Jail, had declared himself “a victim of revenge” while complaining that his appeal against the verdict in the contempt of court case was not heard even after his sentence had ended.

“This is the height of oppression,” he had said. “Who are you holding accountable? And who are you anyway? I stand by what I said [earlier],” he had said.

On being asked if he was “ashamed” of the statement that had landed him in jail in the first place, Hashmi declared that only a “fraud, thief or a person who took undue advantage of power would be embarrassed”.

On Tuesday, the court screened the speech while hearing the same appeal Hashmi had complained about. Hashmi’s lawyer, Kamran Murtaza, sought to apologise on behalf of his client after the speech was played for the court, but the court said that the matter would be taken up after Hashmi’s appearance.

Justice Azmat, in his remarks, observed that Hashmi seems to be toeing one line in the documents submitted to court, and another when he talks to media and makes speeches.

The chief justice remarked that Hashmi had again used objectionable language against judges after his release, to which Murtaza said Hashmi was “ashamed” of what he had said and asked that it not be quoted in the court’s written order.

However, the chief justice refused the request.

SC decides to indict Daniyal Aziz

Hearing another contempt case, the Supreme Court decided to indict PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz on March 13, DawnNewsTV reported.

The SC had served Aziz a contempt of court notice last month for an “anti-judiciary” speech he made. During the last hearing, Aziz had insisted that he had been misquoted by newspapers.

Today, the court expressed dissatisfaction with Aziz’s statement and remarked that, prima facie, his statements merit the registration of a contempt of court case against him.

In his remarks, Justice Azmat remarked that he had been serving as a judge for last 14 years, but never during his tenure as judge had he taken a contempt of court notice.

“I had written in some of my rulings that fair and even unfair comments can be passed on the decisions,” he said, adding that he was now “fed up with all this [politicking].”

Advocate Ali Raza, who is representing Aziz, told the court that DawnNewsTV had aired the proceedings of a private meeting in the video under discussion.

Talking about the video that ran on Neo News, he said that the judiciary had not been mentioned in the discussion.

The hearing of the case will resume on March 13.

Clash of institutions?

Following last year’s Panama Papers judgement in which Nawaz Sharif was disqualified, members of the ruling party, including Aziz — on a number of occasions — have launched unprecedented verbal attacks on the country’s judiciary, accusing it of having different standards for the former prime minister than for his opponents.

On December 20, a few days after the SC had cleared Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan in a disqualification case, Aziz, on the floor of the National Assembly, had recounted the entire history of the Panama Papers case and questioned the way the courts had conducted the matter.

Stopping just short of blaming Nawaz’s ouster in the Panama Papers case on a ‘grand conspiracy’, he had recalled how the Jamaat-i-Islami had filed a petition naming all 450 Pakistanis mentioned in the Panama Papers with the SC, which was declared frivolous and rejected.

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