Home Latest News Contempt of Court Laws Do Not Protect Retired Judges, Says IHC CJ

Contempt of Court Laws Do Not Protect Retired Judges, Says IHC CJ

by Newsweek Pakistan

Farooq Naeem—AFP

Rejecting petition filed against PMLN leaders over criticism of former CJP Saqib Nisar, Justice Minallah says ‘criticism should be welcomed’

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Friday rejected a contempt petition filed against leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), maintaining that such laws do not protest retired judges from criticism.

Earlier this week, lawyer Kalsum Khaliq had filed a petition before the IHC seeking the initiation of contempt of court proceedings against PMLN Vice President Maryam Nawaz and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi over statements in which they questioned former chief justice Saqib Nisar’s alleged bias against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

In a press conference, Maryam had criticized the former chief justice over allegedly instructing subordinate judges to ensure Maryam and her father were convicted prior to the 2018 general elections. “Whether today, or tomorrow, you [Nisar] will have to tell the nation the truth,” she said in a direct address to the ex-CJP. “There is still time. Come forth, tell the nation who pressured you to sentence Nawaz Sharif if it was unwarranted? Who pressured you to sentence Maryam Nawaz, if it was without merit? And who told you that Imran Khan needs to be brought to power?”

Nisar has rejected the allegations, claiming he never issued any illegal instructions related to the Sharifs. He also claimed that the audio leak was “fabricated” and he was considering a legal response to its release.

In Friday’s hearing, Justice Minallah said the victim—Nisar—could claim defamation through courts if he believed he had been unfairly maligned. However, he stressed, contempt of court laws do not protect any retired individuals from criticism, even if they were a former chief justice. “Judges are open-minded about criticism,” he observed. “There is no contempt of court for a retired person, even if the person is a former chief justice. Judges are in a very high position and criticism should be welcomed,” he added.

In a short order dismissing the petition, the IHC CJ said that that the petitioner had been offended by the criticism of the former chief justice, but following retirement a judge became a “common citizen” and could approach various forums for justice. “Contempt law can only be used when it is done in the public interest,” he said.

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