A three-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan after initiating contempt of court proceedings over his remarks about Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry during a speech last week.
Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Justice Babar Sattar and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb directed Khan to personally appear the court on Aug. 31 to respond to the contempt charges and forwarded the case to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial for the formation of a bench comprising more judges to hear it.
On Saturday, while addressing a rally in Islamabad in support of his aide Shahbaz Gill, the ousted prime minister had warned the Islamabad inspector-general and deputy inspector-general he would “not spare” them, adding cases would be filed against them for allegedly torturing Gill. He had then targeted the district and sessions judge who had sent Gill on a two-day physical remand, warning her of consequences for her ruling.
Appearing before the court during the hearing, Islamabad Advocate General Jahangir Khan Jadoon said he had filed a miscellaneous petition seeking permission to place Khan’s speech on the record. He said this was not the first time Khan had targeted the judiciary, stating the PTI chief had repeatedly issued controversial remarks about the judiciary and the Election Commission of Pakistan. “Imran Khan tried to destroy the public’s trust in the judiciary,” he added.
Justice Kayani said Khan’s statement was a clear attempt to disrespect the judiciary and questioned how the former prime minister could comment on a case that was still ongoing. “If a court’s decision is not in favor of someone, will they start giving statements against the court? Do they want people to do justice as they deem fit?” he said, regretting that a woman judge had been directly threatened in this manner.
The judge also lamented that some people thought they could get away with saying whatever they wanted. “Certain people have crippled the state,” he said.
The government has already filed a case against Khan for the remarks under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, with the FIR noting he had threatened both police and the woman judge. The PTI chief secured protective bail from the IHC in the case a day earlier, which is set to expire on Thursday.
Legal experts have warned the case is serious and urged the PTI leader to not contest it and issue an unconditional apology to the judge to avoid legal action. Observers have noted that a contempt conviction—regardless of any further punishment, which can span up to six months’ imprisonment—is considered a criminal offense and would result in Khan being disqualified from holding political office for 5 years under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.