PTI chief Imran Khan appeared before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday in contempt proceedings initiated against him for his controversial remarks about district and sessions judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had approved his chief of staff, Shahbaz Gill’s physical remand in a sedition case.

The former prime minister was summoned by the court in his personal capacity at the last hearing, when the IHC had also issued a show-cause notice to him.

A five-member bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Athar Minal­lah, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kay­ani, Justice Miangul Hassan Aur­an­gzeb, Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri and Justice Babar Sattar, heard the case today.

Prior to the hearing, Islamabad police said a “special security plan” had been devised for the court ahead of the hearing.

“Only individuals with permission from the IHC will be allowed on the court’s premises and alternative routes have been arranged for residents of the area,” a tweet by the capital police said on Tuesday.

The hearing

Before the hearing commenced, PTI leader Babar Awan and his son were asked to leave the courtroom as their names were not presented in the list of approved attendees, the Dawn.com correspondent at the IHC said.

Case proceedings

The decision to initiate contempt proceedings against Imran was taken by Justice Aamer Farooq while hearing a petition challenging Gill’s police remand.

Subsequently, the IHC had constituted a three-member bench, headed by Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and also comprising Justice Babar Sattar and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, to commence the proceedings.

At the last hearing on August 23, the court had observed that it would be appropriate to constitute an even larger bench to hear the case “to determine how public interest in freedom of speech is to upheld and balanced”.

“For this purpose, orders shall be solicited from the Hon’ble Chief Justice,” the court order issued by the initial three-member stated.

The court had also summoned Imran in his personal capacity and issued a show-cause notice to him.

Imran ready to ‘take back words’

The PTI chief submitted his reply to the IHC yesterday, wherein he expressed his willingness to “take back” his words about judge Chaudhry if they were “regarded as inappropriate” and pleaded before the IHC that the judges who had agreed to initiate the case against him should consider withdrawing themselves from the bench as, according to him, they had pre-judged the matter.

In his reply, submitted through counsels Hamid Khan and Barrister Salman Safdar, he urged the IHC to discharge the show-cause notice issued to him and dispose of the contempt matter.

He further asked the court to examine the contents of his speech in the context of his intention, which was “bona fide”.

The reply explained that Imran was under a misconception that judge Chaudhry was an executive magistrate carrying out executive or administrative functions on the federal government’s orders.

The government was “bent upon torturing and violating” the fundamental rights of Gill, the PTI chief said, adding: “It was under this misconception that she was referred to as magistrate.”

The PTI chief maintained he did not mean to threaten the judicial officer or to say anything which brought the administration of law into disrepute.

The reply contended that no contempt was committed by the respondent and that the deputy registrar picked words selectively from his Aug 20 speech.

“These words were taken totally out of context and splashed all over the print and electronic media to give an impression as if the respondent (Imran) intended to take the law into his hands.”

The PTI chief alleged that the contempt proceedings were initiated on the basis of clippings from newspapers that were against him.

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