Pakistan Reader# 441, 2 December 2022
On 1 December, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) released a detailed judgement that described the court’s reasons for pardoning Imran Khan in the contempt case over his “threatening” speech against a woman judge. The bench was led by former chief justice Athar Minallah and said that the judgement trounced the contempt of court law and that the contemnor could not be sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment. The bench defended the judgement and held that the law “provided pardon over genuine apology” of the contemnor and that it had examined judgements of courts that processed contempt cases. In the context of Imran Khan’s “contemptuous” speech where he “extended threats” to judge Zeba Chaudhry, the bench said that Imran Khan’s “language, tone, and context” were “inappropriate” and that it exceeded his reputation as a political leader who was the former prime minister of the country.
The judgement said that Imran Khan had appeared before the bench and rendered an apology for his behaviour and that the bench was “satisfied” with his apology and asked him to submit the same in a written affidavit. The court absolved him of contempt charges and led that the benefit of the doubt was lent to Imran Khan because he apologised to the court before the commencement of the trial. They said, “The speech was not followed by any other action. The only actus reus [acts or omissions] is the aforementioned speech. There is no reason to refuse extending the benefit of the doubt to the Respondent.” (Malik Asad, “IHC explains reason for pardoning Imran in contempt case,” Dawn, 2 December 2022; “Imran showed ‘good intentions': IHC detailed verdict,” The Express Tribune, 2 December 2022)