Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial stated on Friday that he expected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan to hold his party’s Haqeeqi Azadi March in accordance with the law.
The apex court heard the federal government’s plea seeking contemp proceedings against the deposed premier for violating the court’s order during the May 25 long march. Justice Bandial asked Imran’s counsel Salman Akram Raja if the court should expect a law breach during the ongoing march.
Addressing the five-judge larger bench, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Chaudhary Amir Rehman requested that the respondent – Imran Khan – should be required to follow the law if the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration allowed the PTI to hold its march in Islamabad.
When the bench asked Salman Raja to respond, he maintained that he had not obtained specific instructions on the matter.
The counsel for the interior ministry, Salman Aslam Butt, called for the bench to pass directions for obtaining call direct records (CDRs) in order to verify that phones were working in the area where Imran’s convoy was protesting on May 25.
Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi questioned how the CDRs would be helpful, and asked how the May 25 order was communicated to Imran Khan as the PTI chief may not have been in possession of his phone at the time.
Read PTI told to submit new application to ICT admin for rally
Butt contended that Imran Khan was holding a mobile phone in his hand during the protest.
CJP Bandial observed that the apex court was very conscious about exercising the contempt jurisdiction, but maintained that he was aware of the court’s directions not being obeyed.
The bench ordered Imran Khan’s counsel to submit a response to the federal government’s application which presented material to prove that the deposed premier was aware of the May 25 order before his announcement to reach D Chowk in Islamabad.
Political problem, political solution
A day earlier, CJP Bandial dismissed a petition to stop the PTI's Haqeeqi Azadi March observing that it was a political problem that can be solved politically.
The CJP made the remarks during the hearing of a petition filed by Senator Kamran Murtaza against the PTI’s long march.
The chief justice asked the petitioner if he was afraid that May 25 events – where the participants of the ‘Azadi March’ violated a court order regarding the limits defined for the protest – may occur again.
During the hearing, Justice Bandial also asked the senator if he had mentioned past violations in the application, adding that interference in these types of issues creates an awkward situation for the court.