ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court announced its verdict in the contempt of court case against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Tallal Chaudry, finding the former state interior minister guilty of violating Article 204 of the Constitution.
Chaudry, a former minister of state for interior, was ordered by the apex court to ensure his presence during today’s proceedings, which were based on a suo motu notice on his ‘anti-judiciary’ speech during a party rally in Jaranwala in January this year.
Chaudry appeared in court today along with his counsel Kamran Murtaza.
As Justice Gulzar Ahmad, who headed the three-member bench, read out the court’s verdict, Chaudry was sentenced ’till the rising of the court’ — a relatively lenient and symbolic punishment which remains until the court is in session — and fined Rs0.1 million.
Following the conviction, Chaudry, who lost the July 25 General Election from Faisalabad’s NA-102 constituency, will be disqualified from holding public office for five years.
Legal experts informed Geo News after the verdict that though the PML-N leader retains the right to file a review petition, in contempt cases it is very unlikely that a verdict is reversed.
The court had reserved its verdict on the case on July 11 after beginning proceedings in February.
The Supreme Court had initiated contempt proceedings against Chaudry on account of “derogatory and contemptuous speeches/statements” with regard to the court, according to a notification issued on February 2.
In his response to the contempt notice, Chaudhry had written that scandalising the court or doing anything that tended to bring the court into “hatred, ridicule or contempt” was “not even the last thing on the respondent’s mind.”
“Whatever has been said might have been taken into account without relevance to the context due to media reporting,” his response stated.
Not the first
Chaudry’s conviction follows those of other PML-N leaders who, in their defence of party supremo and deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif, made derogatory remarks against state institutions.
In June this year, the top court, on a similar suo motu notice, sentenced former federal privatisation minister and PML-N leader Daniyal Aziz for contempt “till rising of the court”.
The contempt judgement also led to similar automatic disqualification from Parliament for five years and restrained Aziz from contesting the July 25 General Election.
A three-judge bench of the top court had taken suo motu notice of Aziz’s anti-judiciary remarks in February this year.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court had sentenced then-PML-N Senator Nehal Hashmi to jail on contempt charges over his controversial remarks against the judiciary.