Babar Contempt case: SC refused ‘unconditional apology’

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred the hearing of contempt of court case against former law minister Babar Awan till tomorrow, Aaj news reported.

The court will be framing the charges of contempt of Court charges tomorrow against senator Babar Awan, former Law  Minister, after directing his counsel to address it over the issue of tendering an unconditional apology.

A two-Judge bench comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and Justice Athar Saeed resumed hearing of a suo motu notice taken on Babar Awan’s address at a press conference held in Press Information Department on December 2, after initial order of the larger bench on memo issue.

Barrister Ali Zafar, counsel for Babar Awan, said that his client had tendered a written apology which must be considered and the further proceedings for framing of contempt of court charges should be dropped.

But Justice Ejaz Afzal told him “Let the contempt charges be framed and then the bench would consider his apology.”

He said that the bench could not say at this stage that they were not considering his apology and asked the counsel to address the issue as it would have bearing upon the proceedings.

Barrister Ali contended that it was not known in the judicial history of the country that after an apology was tendered, the contempt proceedings should continue.

He said there was no judgement that contempt process should continue after tendering the apology.

Justice Ejaz Afzal disagreeing with his point said that there were a number of judgements over the issue.

The counsel said under sub section (2) of section 5 of the contempt of Court Ordinance 2003, “A person accused of having committed contempt of court may, at any stage, submit an apology and the court, if satisfied that it is bona fide, may discharge him or remit his sentence.”

Justice Ejaz told him that it was the discretion of the court to determine whether there was bona fide intentions or not.

Ali said that if the bench was going to frame charges, it would mean further proceedings into the matter which would be a rare case after tendering of an apology.

Justice Ejaz replied that the section of contempt of court he referred, was not a mandatory provision.

The counsel said that as a lawyer of the Court, he did not want it to proceed further in the matter as it would be against its dignity.

In his written application Babar Awan had said that the court in reality was like a parent and the alleged contemnor in contempt proceedings was like an errant child, the applicant genuinely had bona-fide believed that he must forthwith apologize to the Court.

“The applicant believes in the principle that the alleged contemnor should, prior to proceeding to trial, not hesitate in apologizing at the earliest opportunity,” he added.

Babar Awan also reiterated his respect for the judiciary by saying that whatever he stated in the conference was unintentional and based upon inadvertence.

He also apologized particularly to Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Judge of the Supreme Court, by saying that there was no doubt about his acumen, integrity, impartiality and dedication.

He prayed to the court to accept his apology as bona fide and contempt proceedings against him may accordingly be discharged. APP