Pak SC to launch contempt proceedings against 9 judges

Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 2 (PTI) Pakistan''s Supreme Court todaydecided to initiate contempt of court proceedings against ninejudges who endorsed the "illegal" emergency in 2007 and leftit to Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry to decide whethersimilar proceedings should be taken up against former militarydictator Pervez Musharraf.

A four-judge bench headed by Justice Mahmood AkhtarShahid Siddiqui said charges will be framed against the ninejudges, including former apex court Chief Justice Abdul HameedDogar, on February 21.

The court left it to Chief Justice Chaudhry to decidewhether the same bench or another one should take up contemptof court proceedings against Musharraf and former PrimeMinister Shaukat Aziz for their actions during the emergencyimposed in November 2007 by Musharraf.

The bench had been hearing a case to decide whethercontempt of court proceedings should be launched against 11top judges who swore an oath of allegiance to Musharraf afterhe imposed the emergency.

Hours after Musharraf imposed the emergency, a benchheaded by Chief Justice Chaudhry had declared it illegal.

Musharraf then removed Chaudhry and replaced him with Dogar.

The case against the 11 judges was taken up afterChaudhry and other judges deposed during the emergency wererestored following nationwide protests in March 2009.

In its verdict issued this morning, the bench decided notto initiate contempt of court proceedings against two of the11 judges. The bench also considered whether it could issuenotices to Musharraf and other Generals involved in thepromulgation of emergency in 2007.

The verdict said the Constitution and law do not prohibitproceedings against judges of the Supreme Court and HighCourts for committing contempt of court.

The nine judges will "be put to trial in accordance withthe... law," the verdict said.

Referring to the actions of Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz,the bench noted that they had proclaimed emergency and askedjudges to swear an oath of allegiance to the President beforethe apex court struck down the imposition of emergency.

"Therefore, the case for contempt of court these persons(Musharraf and Aziz) will have to answer is materiallydifferent from the charge to be faced by the (judges)...

"The proceedings, therefore, against the aforesaidpersons may proceed independently and on their own facts,either before this bench or before some other bench as may bedetermined by the Hon''ble Chief Justice of Pakistan," theverdict said.

The Supreme Court had earlier declared the emergencyimposed by Musharraf as "unconstitutional and illegal."

Musharraf, who quit as President in 2008, has been livingin self-exile in Britain for almost two years.

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