Justice (retd) Shamim remains absent from the court
The Islamabad High Court has started contempt proceedings against former Gilgit-Baltistan judge Rana Shamim and the Jang Group of newspapers CEO and others for “attempting to discredit the sanctity of the judiciary”.
On Monday, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued notices after a report, published in The News, accused former chief justice Saqib Nisar of deliberately keeping PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz in jail during the 2018 general elections. The allegations were made by Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) former Justice Rana Shamim in an affidavit.
The News journalist Ansar Abbasi had reported on the allegations and reproduced the affidavit.
The Islamabad High Court took notice of the report and summoned Abbasi, Jang Group CEO Mir Shakil ur Rehman, Justice (retd) Shamim and others.
On Tuesday, Abbasi and Shakil ur Rehman appeared before the Islamabad High Court. Justice (retd) Shamim was not present at the hearing and the court expressed anger over his absence.
“We have called you here today with a heavy heart,” Justice Minallah remarked as the proceeding commenced. “But you need to learn the difference between social media and a newspaper.”
“Your report has challenged the sanctity of the court,” the judge said to Rehman and asked “Will you print any affidavit on the front page of your newspaper?”
Justice Minallah instructed Rehman to read out loud the headline of the report in the court. “I can’t find my glasses,” the Jang Group chief excused. “It’s fine. Ansar Abbasi can read it of you instead,” the judge said.
Abbasi said, “I want to first say something.”
This irked the court. “This is about the respect of the Islamabad High Court. Read the story,” Justice Minallah pushed.
When Abbasi read the news out loud, the court asked if the affidavit, reproduced in the report, was presented in any court of law or shown to a judge.
Abbasi replied that whatever he did was to maintain the respect of the court. “Are you just a messenger? Rehman sahab, you tell us. Will Guardian ever publish a report like this?” the court asked.
Here, the journalist interjected. “Whatever happened, my editor and chief editor have nothing to do with it.”
Abbasi added that the court could continue contempt proceedings against him but should, at the same time, also launch an inquiry into the revelations made in his report.
Justice Minallah called out Abbasi for turning things “political”. “Your allegations were not just directed towards a judge but the entire judiciary.”
The judge challenged all the respondents. “Even if you bring one piece of evidence, I will, myself, initiate proceedings against the former chief justice.”
The court also expressed anger over the absence of the GB judge. “How is it possible that a judge hears something illegal happening and stays quiet for three years? Why didn’t Shamim reveal this earlier?”
Justice Minallah then asked the attorney-general what is the punishment of taking a false oath. He replied that its a crime.
The court summoned Shamim at the next hearing and issued show-cause notices to Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, Ansar Abbasi, and The News Resident Editor Amir Ghouri. They have been instructed to submit their responses within seven days.
On Monday, November 15, The News published a story. It is based on information from a former top judge of Gilgit-Baltistan, Rana M Shamim.
Shamim claimed that Saqib Nisar, the then chief justice of Pakistan, was visiting him in GB for vacations in 2018. One evening, as they drank tea, Nisar received a call. The person on the other end was his Registrar. “He [Nisar] directed him to go the residence of Justice…of… and request him to immediately call him [Nisar].” The story did not give the name of the judge who was supposed to follow these orders.
The report claims that Justice Nisar instructed the Registrar to convey, on his behalf, that “Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz Sharif must not be released on bail before the general elections at any cost.”
“On assurances from the other side, he [Saqib Nisar] became calm and happily demanded another cup of tea,” the GB judge claimed, according to The News.
Nisar also told the GB judge to treat this exchange as if he had never heard anything, the report says.
However, Justice (retd) Shamim broke his silence in an affidavit on November 10 and gave the statements under oath, The News claimed adding that the document contained the judge’s signatures as well as a copy of his CNIC.
The PML-N founder and his daughter were convicted by an accountability court in a graft case before the 2018 elections. They were accused of owning assets beyond means.
Later on Monday, Justice (retd) Saqib Nisar said that the former GB judge’s statement was a “pack of lies”. I have never given such orders to any judge or court, he told SAMAA TV.
Justice Nisar added that everyone knows who was spreading such news against him. “Rana Shamim wanted an extension but I refused it. He had complained against my decision too.”
Responding to Justice Nisar, the Justice (retd) Shamim said that Justice Nisar never had the authority to grant him extension. “I stand by each and every world I told The News. Only the prime minister and chief justice of Gilgit-Baltistan have the authority to give me an extension.”