ISLAMABAD: A leader of the Peoples Party told the Supreme Court on Monday that he was not in his “senses” when he made an outburst against the Chief Justice of Pakistan in Karachi earlier this month.
Masoodur Rehman Abbasi, an office-bearer of the PPP’s Karachi chapter, is facing contempt charges for his derogatory remarks against Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed.
But a four-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, asked the accused to explain his position in writing since the verbal statement would be of no help in deciding the matter.
Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan wondered whether the accused was in his senses when he made the statement.
“No sir, I was not in my senses,” Mr Abbasi replied, but Justice Bandial asked the accused to give his reply in writing after consulting his counsel.
The bench inquired whether the accused was confident that the video clip showing him uttering insulting remarks against the chief justice had not been tampered with.
The PPP leader admitted to the media after the hearing that he had committed a mistake and that he respected the judiciary, but felt dejected because “my party has deserted me” by suspending his basic membership.
A senior official of the Sindh police presented Masoodur Rehman Abbasi at the rostrum when the bench inquired whether the accused was present in the courtroom or not.
At the last hearing on June 22, the Supreme Court had ordered Sindh’s Inspector General of Police (IGP) to ensure that the contempt notice was served upon Mr Abbasi and to make certain his appearance before the court on Monday.
After going through the reply, Justice Bandial explained to the accused the court would determine whether to proceed further by appointing a prosecutor and record evidence against him, but made it clear that it intended to conclude the hearing as soon as possible.
Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan requested the apex court to issue notice to the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) since the matter lay in their jurisdiction.
When Justice Ahsan wondered whether the PTA had removed the content from social media, PTA’s Director General (Law) Sajjad Awan told the court that his organisation would remove the content only after the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had completed its inquiry.
Sajjad Awan told the court that removal of the content from social media in haste might hamper the pace of investigation.
The court told the PTA to coordinate with the FIA and remove the video from social media after consultation with the attorney general.
The Supreme Court noted the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had informed it that the electronic media had never telecast the video clip of the accused.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan said it should be ensured that the clip was not broadcast. He asked the AGP to produce in court the evidence collected by him so far in “legal form”.
Sanaullah Abbasi, the FIA’s Director General, informed the bench that the agency had submitted an interim report to the court, but was told to coordinate with the PTA.
Justice Bandial asked Sanaullah Abbasi to depute an officer to represent him in future hearings instead of appearing before the court himself.
The Supreme Court asked the attorney general to assist the authorities in collecting legal material. The case will be taken up again on Friday.
In its interim report, the FIA said the audio and video clip in which Masoodur Rehman was shown making indecent and disrespectful remariqwwks was genuine and unedited. It was still in circulation on social media websites.
The report explained that the FIA had requested the digital forensic lab of its cybercrime wing to conduct a forensic analysis of the video clip in order to verify its authenticity.
The laboratory replied that Masoodur Rehman Abbasi’s speech was available on different social media websites. The video’s duration was two minutes and 15 seconds. It was first uploaded on Facebook and later posted by different people on other sites, including You Tube.
The report explained that the Facebook accounts on which the video clip was uploaded had been preserved and a data request would be made after obtaining orders from the court.