Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Hearing of Avenfield reference against Sharif family to resume today

Hearing of Avenfield reference against Sharif family to resume today

A three-judge full bench, headed by Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, and comprising Justice Atir Mahmood and Justice Chaudhry Masood Jahangir, had taken up a set of petitions against "anti-judiciary speeches" delivered by PML-N leaders.

The Avenfield properties reference is among three cases filed against Nawaz and his family by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) previous year on the Supreme Court's directives, which also disqualified Nawaz Sharif as premier and party head.

Giving the decision on over two dozen petitions filed against "anti-judiciary" speeches by Nawaz, Maryam, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other party leaders, the court ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to decide on the petitions in 15 days and until that time refrain from airing any contemptuous remarks.

Examine: What qualifies as anti-judiciary speech?

The petitioners submitted that Sharif and his daughter had been severely criticizing the judiciary in their public speeches. "If they are not stopped they will continue attacking the judiciary", the petitioner said, requesting the court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the respondents under the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, read with Article 204 of the Constitution.

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But Justice Naqvi observed that the constitutional right to fair criticism is conditional to law and regulation. It made sense for a lawyer or an expert in legal matters to comment on judicial verdicts, the judge added.

When the court asked the regulatory body why it had dismissed the petitions, Pemra's counsel Salman Akram Raja said the allegations against the government agency were baseless.

It had reserved the verdict earlier in the day after hearing arguments from the counsels for Pemra, the former premier and petitioners.

He said the bench also dismissed Sharif's petition challenging the jurisdiction of the court in this matter.

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