ISLAMABAD        -     The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday directed Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information, to submit a written reply to a contempt of court notice issued to her for scandalizing the judiciary.

Dr Firdous appeared before the IHC bench and tendered her “unconditional apology” — her second one in less than a week — for her remarks regarding a case.

However, the bench comprising Justice Athar Minallah directed Awan to submit her written response in this matter till the coming Saturday and deferred the proceedings till November 11.

It was October 30 when the same bench had issued a notice to Awan under Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, according to which she maligned the court while giving a statement that the hearing of a petition on the release of former premier Nawaz Sharif on Saturday evening was “a special dispensation”.

Later, the court accepted Awan’s unconditional apology on November 1 and issued her another show cause notice for prejudicing the pending proceedings related to the petition seeking suspension of Nawaz Sharif’s sentence.

During the hearing, Justice Athar said that it is a huge crime to level allegations in a subjudice matter. He added that this court would not favour anyone and action would be taken in accordance with the law.

The court asked that if she had submitted a written reply. At this, her counsel responded in the negative. Justice Minallah directed Awan to submit a written response,

Awan’s lawyer requested the court to exempt her from appearing before the court in person, but the judge turned down the request saying that her appearance in the court is beneficial for her.

Firdous maintained she had not maligned the court in her 20-year long political career. She tendered another unconditional apology.

Justice Athar observed that the high court was a target of similar critique in 2014 when it halted arrests of protesters by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). He reminded that a high court bar member filed an urgent appeal on a holiday.

The IHC chief justice said that the high court would follow the law and not offer discounts to anyone. He added that even a hardened criminal deserves a fair trial.