The Islamabad High Court on Thursday decided to indict former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan in contempt of court case for making controversial remarks against a woman judge. Khan will be formally indicted after two weeks.
A five-member bench of Islamabad High Court headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah and comprising Justices Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri and Babar Sattar called Khan’s response “unsatisfactory” and highlighted his statements against Additional Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry as “incitement”.
During a rally in Islamabad earlier this month, Khan had threatened to file cases against top police officials, election commission and political opponents over the treatment meted out to his aide Shahbaz Gill, who was arrested on charges of sedition.
After Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry ordered Gill’s two-day physical remand at the request of the police, Khan had said she should “prepare herself as action would be taken against her”.
Hours after the speech, Khan was booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act for threatening police, judiciary and other state institutions at his rally. Justice Aamer Farooq decided to initiate contempt proceedings against Khan.
In his supplementary response, Imran Khan maintained that he “deeply regretted” his comments on the woman judge, saying he did not intent to question or hurt the sentiments of the institution or the judge.
“There will be no shame in expressing regret to the judge for my words,” stated Imran Khan in his supplementary statement.
However, since Khan did not render an unconditional apology in his response, the High Court saw it as another defense to the initial remarks by Imran Khan.
Imran Khan was present in the court when the decision was announced. During the proceedings, Imran Khan requested the court to allow him to give his version and explain the context of what he had said. However, the court rejected the request. Imran Khan’s lawyer Hamid Khan maintained that he wanted the matter to be closed following the response by Imran Khan. However, the reply was termed “unsatisfactory” by the court. “The problem with Imran Khan is that he has been told by his team members, including Fawad Chaudhry and Babar Awan, that no decision can be taken against him because of his immense popularity among the people. It is this reason why Imran Khan has, to a great extent, started seeing himself above the law or any other power and has continued to target state institutions like judiciary and the military establishment with strong statements and criticism,” said senior analyst Javed Siddique. The decision of the court comes as a reality check for the popular leader as a contempt of court case and indictment in the case can even bring an end to his political career.
Imran Khan’s supporters have termed any action against him as their “red line” and have threatened of serious and dire consequences.