Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) was happy with Imran Khan’s apology on Thursday when it decided not to charge the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader in the contempt of court case.
The former prime minister told the court that he was ready to apologize to Additional District and Sessions Judge Jeba Choudhary for what he had said. A case was registered against the former prime minister after he threatened a judge to let PTI leader Shahbaz Gill stay in jail at a rally last month.
The case was led by IHC Chief Justice (CJ) Athar Minallah, who was in charge of a larger bench of five judges. Justices Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Mian Gul Hasan Aurangzeb, Tariq Mahmood Jahangiri and Babar Sattar were also on the bench.
“Prima facie, we are satisfied with the apology of the respondent. Before the next date which has been fixed, he should file an affidavit in this court. The matter may be adjourned till October 3, 2022, so that charges can be framed against the respondent. The written order of the court said, “The matter will be heard on the scheduled date at 2:30 pm.”
The charges were to be read in court today. But Imran’s lawyer Hamid Khan made the same request as in the previous hearing and the PTI leader was given an opportunity to speak in court.
“I am the only one who talks about the rule of law in political rallies,” Imran said, emphasizing that he has worked for the cause for the past 26 years.
He said, ‘If you want me to apologize to the lady judge, then I am ready to do so. The PTI chief said, ‘What I said was not what I meant to say.
“I promise the court that I will not do anything like this again,” he said. He also said he was sorry “for crossing a red line”.
The court then said that there was no point in initiating a contempt of court case against the PTI chief. CJ Minallah said, “The trial of the matter was going on, so we initiated contempt of court proceedings.”
“We appreciate the apology, but what happened shouldn’t have happened,” CJ said. “We only care about the lower courts,” the judge said, asking Imran to send an affidavit regarding the case in a week.
“We’re not telling you what to say or what not to say,” he continued. “You decide,” we say.
But the court also said, “If you feel you were wrong, the court appreciates it.”
Earlier, the high court said none of Imran’s additional replies were sufficient for reference and fixed September 22 as the date for accusing him.
On 20 August, Imran said some controversial things about the judge as he allowed Shahbaz Gill, the leader of Imran’s party, to be jailed on charges of treason.
In a circular regarding the PTI leader’s court appearance, the IHC said the matter will be heard by a larger bench at 2:30 pm on Thursday (today).
But after Imran Khan’s remarks in the court on Thursday, CJ Minallah said, ‘It is not right for us to punish for contempt of court.
The IHC then asked Imran to submit an affidavit to show that he was willing to apologize to the trial judge, and it decided to adjourn the trial to October 3.
Tight security arrangements were made for the court and its surrounding area before the hearing. Security was also beefed up in various parts of the federal capital in case something went wrong. The number of people deployed in dangerous areas and on important routes was increased.
Lawyers, law officers and journalists needed passes to get into the courtroom. The Registrar of the High Court also allowed lawyers, law officers and journalists to listen to audio cases in the press room and bar room.
The courtroom was open to Imran’s 15-person legal team, 15 lawyers from the Attorney General and Advocate General’s office, 3 court clerks and 15 court reporters.
Five lawyers of both High Court and District Bar will be allowed in the courtroom.