A Pakistani court on Thursday decided to indict former prime minister Imran Khan in contempt of court case against him for making controversial remarks against a female judge, calling his response “unsatisfactory”.
During a rally here earlier this month, 69-year-old Khan had threatened to file cases against top police officials, election commission and political opponents over the treatment meted out to his aide Shahbaz Gill, who was arrested on charges of sedition.
He had also taken exception to Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had approved Gill’s two-day physical remand at the request of the police, and said she should “prepare herself as action would be taken against her.” Hours after the speech, Khan was booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act for threatening police, judiciary and other state institutions at his rally.
Justice Aamer Farooq decided to initiate contempt proceedings against Khan while hearing a petition challenging Gill’s police remand.
A five-member bench of Islamabad High Court headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah and comprising Justices Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri and Babar Sattar took up the contempt case.
After going through the response and hearing arguments by lawyers on Thursday, the court reserved its judgment whether to proceed with the contempt case or drop it.
After a brief break during which the judges discussed the matter, the court reconvened to announce that Khan would be formally indicted after two weeks.
The Express Tribune reported that the charges would be framed and the former premier would be indicted on September 22.
During its first hearing on August 31, Khan personally appeared before the court which expressed dissatisfaction over his written response to the show-cause notice issued by the bench. However, the court had offered him a second opportunity to file a proper response in writing.
However, the supplementary response submitted on Wednesday apparently failed to win the approval of the bench as Khan had regretted his remarks but didn’t tender an apology.
Chief Justice Minallah observed during the hearing that the reply to the show-cause notice appeared to be “justifying” contempt of judiciary and showed “no remorse or regret”.
“Would you have submitted the same reply if these words were used for a SC or a high court judge?” Justice Minallah said when Khan’s lawyer Hamid Khan stated that his client was giving a clarification and not justifying it.
Hamid Khan said that the former premier wanted the contempt case to be wrapped up as hurling a threat at the female judge was not his objective.
Earlier, the former premier who arrived at the court in tight security told the media outside the courtroom that the security arrangements made him feel like Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian prisoner who was sentenced to death by a military court for alleged subversive activities against Pakistan.
When asked if he would tender an unconditional apology, Khan sarcastically said he would obtain a ‘no objection certificate’ from Matiullah Jan, a senior journalist, as he had more experience. Jan was kidnapped by unknown people when Khan was prime minister and released after the IHC took notice of it.
Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan. The cricketer-turned-politician, who came to power in 2018, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament.