Contempt case verdict to help democracy: CJ

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has remarked that the logical end of the contempt of court law case would be in the benefit of the democracy irrespective of whatever it might be, adding that it has become a tradition in the country that courts are considered enemy after they give a verdict against someone.

The remarks came as a five-judge bench headed by the CJ on Monday resumed hearing into multiple identical petitions against the Contempt of Court Act 2012. Pleading before the bench, petitioner Shahid Orakzai submitted that ‘contempt’ does not mean disrespect to the court; instead, it means antagonism to justice, adding that the Article-204 of the Constitution does not make any mention of apology over contempt charge.

How come then pardon, which the constitution does not ensure, could be given under a law, he asked. A petitioner Shahid Orakzai said the law would have to be scrutinised in the light of the constitution. “Here a man convicted in contempt case is respected and greeted with flowers despite the fact that he is an enemy of justice,” he said. Another lawyer Arshad Baggu said that the court could not take action against the accused if he ridiculed all the judges of the SC.

The CJ said, “The judges are considered enemy when the court gives a verdict against someone while it becomes good when it gives a ruling in their favour.” Meanwhile, counsel for Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) also urged the SC to strike down the new contempt of court law as it was in violation of the constitution. Latif Afridi, counsel for PBC, while arguing before the bench, said that the impression that the judiciary was opposing the parliament should be done away with. He prayed the court to declare the law as completely in conflict with the constitution and strike down.

The CJ said that the parliament and the judiciary were for the 180 million people of Pakistan. He said the debate in the media, civil society and judiciary over the contempt law was a positive sign. The chief justice remarked that it was important that the largest body of lawyers was seeking orders to strike down the law. – PT