The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday disposed of the federal government’s contempt of court plea against PTI Chairman Imran Khan over his violation of the apex court’s orders during PTI’s Azadi March.
The government filed the contempt petition this morning after the PTI openly defied the SC’s directives, announcing to hold a rally at D-Chowk –Islamabad’s prohibited Red Zone.
Accepting the plea, the SC formed a five-member larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, to look into the matter.
At the outset of the hearing, Attorney-General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf read out the SC verdict before the court.
CJP Bandial remarked that the court doesn’t want to continue hearing on the case.
“We will issue the verdict in the case which will serve as an example in the future,” CJP remarked.
At the start of the hearing, the chief justice said the bench had not been formed to accuse anyone but to protect constitutional rights.
He asked the attorney general whether he believed the court’s directives had not been followed and some people had been injured after which law enforcement agencies took action.
He observed that Articles 16 (freedom of assembly) and 17 (freedom of association) of the Constitution ensured the right to protest but it was not unlimited.
The attorney general then requested the court’s permission to play a video recording of Imran’s address to his supporters which was granted.
AGP Ausaf argued that Imran told his supporters the SC had granted permission to protest at D-Chowk.
The chief justice questioned what happened after the PTI chairman’s statement.
“Imran then asked his workers to reach D-Chowk,” Ausaf replied.
“It is possible that the message was not delivered to Imran Khan properly,” Chief Justice Bandial remarked. “The entire issue is [related to] a conflict. Judicial proceedings cannot be based on assumptions.”
The attorney general argued that the PTI was granted permission to protest after assurances that the Azadi March would be peaceful.
The court had tried to establish trust between the parties involved through its orders a day earlier, the chief justice observed.
“The court made efforts for citizens’ protection ahead of the protest yesterday. Court proceedings usually take place after the incident. The court took the responsibility of being a mediator.”
Justice Bandial added that the PTI would also have “several” reservations with the government.
The attorney general argued that assurances given to the court were not followed, to which the CJP replied that “whatever happened yesterday has ended today.”
He added that the court could not use the administration’s authority, however, it was always available for the people’s protection.
The court had stopped authorities from raiding people’s homes for their protection and it would maintain its order, the chief justice said. “We will hold further hearings on this matter.”