ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Thursday convicted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Talal Chaudhry in a contempt of court case and sentenced him till the rising of the court besides imposing on him a fine of Rs 100,000.

Talal Chaudhry, owing to the conviction, has also been disqualified under Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution to contest any election for the next five years to become a public office holder.

“We are satisfied that the alleged contemnor has committed a contempt of court within the meaning of Article 204 of the Constitution read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, and made himself liable for punishment. Thus he is convicted and sentenced under sections 3 and 5 of Ordinance 2003 and punished with imprisonment till the rising of the court along with a fine of Rs 100,000,” the top court ruled.

The judgment was announced by Justice Gulzar Ahmed while PML-N leader Talal Chaudhry was also present in the courtroom.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Faisal Arab, heard the contempt case.

On March 15, Talal Chaudhry was indicted for committing the contempt of court in his two speeches which he had made on 24 January and 27 January this year. Talal Chaudhry, addressing a PML-N public gathering, had asked the masses to oust the idols of PCO judges from the Supreme Court.

Since the sentence was till the rising of the court, so Talal Chaudhry remained on his seat in the courtroom for more than two hours.

The 18-page judgment authored by Justice Gulzar Ahmed rejected the stance of the PML-N leader that contempt proceedings could not be initiated through a suo motu action. The judgment ruled that the contempt proceedings could be initiated through a suo motu notice under the Supreme Court Rules, 1980.

Talal’s counsel had contended that the contempt of court could not be initiated through suo motu on the note of the registrar.

However, the judgment ruled the contempt proceedings against police officials involved in manhandling former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry were initiated on the basis of a note put up before the then acting chief justice by the registrar.

“There are scores of other precedents on this very aspect of the matter and it seems unnecessary for us to delve through them as it will unnecessarily prolong the judgment,” the top court observed. “We have closely examined the two transcripts of speeches made by the alleged contemnor and apparently found that such utterances of the alleged contemnor amounted to contempt of court and an attempt to scandalise the court or bring the court or a judge of the court into hatred or ridicule within the meaning of Article 204 of the Constitution. Such contempt, in terms of Section 18 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, was substantially detrimental to the administration of justice as it scandalised the court and tended to bring the court or a Judge of the court into hatred or ridicule,” it added.

The top court also ruled that the burden to prove that speeches were out of context was on Talal Chaudhry, but he failed to do so.

“Once the alleged contemnor had taken up the defence on a point that his two speeches were referred to out of context, the burden was upon him to show and establish that such was the case, which he failed to do,” it added.

On Talal Chaudhry’s contention of judicial restraint, the top court observed that exercise of judicial restraint varies from case to case. “The principle of judicial restraint is not a universal principle to be applied to each and every case as each and every case is based upon its own different facts which in law are required to be dealt with in the peculiar facts and circumstances,” the judgment stated.

“The alleged contemnor in his two speeches has not only abused the judges of this court but also has scandalised the court and did everything to bring the court into hatred, ridicule and contempt, which is substantially detrimental to the administration of justice and scandalises the court and tends to bring the court and judges of the court into hatred and ridicule,” it added.

It further observed the freedom of speech and expression given to every citizen had been made subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam, defence of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, [commission of] or incitement of an offence.

“Thus it is apparent that contempt of court is the law to which the fundamental right of every citizen to freedom of speech and expression has been subjected,” it added.

“In exercising the fundamental right of freedom of speech and freedom of expression, if a citizen impinges upon and transgresses the reasonable restrictions of law of contempt of court, he will make himself culpable and liable to be proceeded against under the contempt of court law,” the top court further observed.

It said the rationale of making law of contempt by the Constitution itself and by promulgation of the ordinance was a matter of public policy to secure the law of the land, adding it was the duty of the court to uphold and secure the judges and the court from being scandalised into hatred or ridicule.

“The contempt law is meant basically to maintain the efficacy of the courts of justice and secure public confidence in the administration of justice,” it added.

 INP adds: Talking to mediamen out of court, Talal said the judiciary’s respect will not increase just through contempt of court sentences. He said its respect will increase the day the courts hand out sentences for contempt of the constitution, he said.

“We saw our people get martyred for the respect of the judiciary,” he said. “And if today’s sentence increases the judiciary’s respect, I accept it because I am a democrat. It’s because I took the oath to protect the Constitution and because I am a follower of Nawaz Sharif.”

He said justice will prevail in the country when dictators are hanged.

According to him, the PML-N’s leaders and workers are all patriots. “There is no question about our patriotism and honesty,” he said and cited the examples of how the party’s leadership played a crucial role in the nuclear bomb testing and CPEC.



SC disqualifies Talal too