SC issues contempt notice to Iftikharuddin Mirza for video threatening Justice Isa

SC warns of banning YouTube in Pakistan over objectionable content

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Rawalpindi-based cleric Agha Iftikharuddin Mirza’s “unconditional apology” for making derogatory remarks and threats against Justice Qazi Faez Isa and other judges, issuing him a contempt of court notice and directing him to respond in seven days and to personally appear in the next hearing.
A day ago, Mirza had submitted an affidavit before the Supreme Court, tendering an unconditional apology for “unintentionally” uttering some words against the honourable judges in a “private meeting”.
A two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan heard the case. During the hearing, Justice Ahsan questioned whether such language could be allowed and if an apology can be accepted in such a case.
The chief justice remarked that there was “no room for mercy” in the case while Justice Ahsan said that the video “was not made by a child but by Mirza himself”.
The court further observed that Mirza had a YouTube channel and he earned money through it.
“Such curse words are not used even in the streets. Islamic scholars recorded such a video and then made it public. He [Mirza] accepted in front of the Federal Investigation Agency that he recorded the video in the presence of seven worshippers,” Justice Ahsan said.
The judge pointed out that on the one hand Mirza had accepted his crime by submitting an apology but he still claimed he had not committed a crime.
Sarkar Abbas, Mirza’s lawyer, said his client was a heart patient and should be forgiven to which the chief justice said he [Mirza] should have kept his “tongue in check”.
The chief justice berated Mirza’s lawyer for not understanding the importance of the case and for taking it lightly. “We can send Iftikharuddin [Mirza] to jail for six months,” he said.
Justice Ahsan said according to Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan, the video could also be classified as a crime under the Criminal Procedure Code and anti-terrorism laws, adding that there was no room for forgiveness in such cases.
“The video was planned and pictures were used as well. These words [in the video] have been used against institutions. Forgiveness cannot be asked after using such words,” Justice Ahsan remarked.
Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan argued that Mirza had used “strong words” against the judiciary which had damaged its respect. But the AG did acknowledge that Mirza had been shifted to a hospital on complaints of heart pain and dizziness.
“He started getting dizzy after the judiciary took notice. If the court wants, it can announce punishment today if he pleads guilty,” Justice Ahsan said.
The top court also refused to accept a letter by Justice Isa’s wife and directed her to submit it according to court procedures. It also refused to hear arguments from lawyers of journalists Hamid Mir and Mohammad Maalik.
The case was adjourned until July 15.

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