Pakistan: SC indicts Federal Privatisation Minister Daniyal Aziz for contempt

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday indicted Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leader and Federal Minister for Privatisation Daniyal Aziz for contempt of court. The minister pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

The court had taken suo motu notice of ‘anti-judiciary’ speeches made by the PML-N leader last year.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, heard the contempt case against Aziz today. Justice Musheer Alam read out the charges in court.

The bench observed that Aziz was “committed to scandalising the court”.

The apex court said that in a press conference on 8 September last year the minister had alleged that an apex court judge had prepared a corruption reference after summoning the National Accountability Bureau’s Lahore team.

The court further said that in a speech on 15 December 2017, Aziz had claimed that the Supreme Court purposefully disqualified Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen in order to save PTI chief, Imran Khan.

The bench observed that in speeches on both ocassions, the minister while referring to the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif and Khan’s receiving a ‘clean chit’ claimed that the court’s verdict pointed towards political engineering.

“It was said that all this was being done according to a script,” the court added.

The bench fixed the next date of hearing on 26 March on which date, prosecution witnesses have been summoned to give their testimonies.

Following last year’s Panama Papers judgement on 28 July in which deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified, members of the ruling party, including Aziz — on a number of occasions — had launched unprecedented verbal attacks on the country’s judiciary, accusing it of having different standards for the former prime minister than for his opponents.

The Supreme Court has reserved order in a similar case of contempt against PML-N leader Tallal Chaudhry. It is scheduled to be announced on Wednesday, and the court is expected to indict Chaudhry.

Earlier, on 1 February, Pakistan’s Supreme Court sentenced Senator Nehal Hashmi to one-month imprisonment and barred him from holding public office for the next five years as it announced its verdict in the contempt of court case against the former PML-N stalwart.

A three-member bench of the apex court — headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa dismissed an unconditional apology, which Hashmi had submitted to the court on 24 January for his threatening video message against “those investigating” former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his family in the aftermath of disqualification of the former prime minister.

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