When it comes to Constitution, oppressed class, courts will open at 3am: IHC CJ Minallah

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ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Friday said that if the matter is related to the Constitution or the oppressed class, the courts will open at 3am. His remarks came during the hearing of a petition against the harassment of anchorperson Arshad Sharif. Sharif’s lawyer Faisal Chaudhry appeared on behalf of the petitioner.  At the outset of the hearing, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked while addressing Sharif and his lawyer Faisal Chaudhry if they had watched Kashif Abbasi’s programme.  He said that remarks were made without the confirmation of facts. “Kashif Abbasi had asked why the courts were opened at midnight. A narrative had been built that the courts were opened at night upon someone’s directives,” Justice Minallah remarked, questioning if there were any political reasons behind it.  “Such a narrative was built to weaken people’s confidence in courts,” he said. The CJ further asked: “Wouldn’t history be different if the courts had opened on July 4, 1977, and October 12, 1999? Do you think your news channel understands the Constitution better than the courts? The courts had been opened to protect basic rights. Do you want the courts should not open when there is an urgent matter? These narratives would lead people nowhere.” Justice Minallah further said that a court opening after working hours was not unprecedented as the courts have to assume some responsibility. “You should be happy that the violation of the Constitution was not allowed. We sent the message that no action against the Constitution would be allowed,” he said. The court asked the private channel’s reporter how many programmes did they air on missing persons or Baloch students?  Justice Athar Minallah said that institutions are being destroyed because of political statements but added that it was not the first time. During the hearing, FIA officials informed the court that they have not taken any action or launched an inquiry against Arshad Sharif. The FIA officials also denied the allegations of harassment and said that the agency has issued a written clarification in this regard. Journalist Afzal Butt, however, said that they respect the courts. “If it weren’t for the courts, the press wouldn’t be free,” he said, assuring the court to discuss the matter with TV anchors. Justice Minallah remarked that the court reporters are responsible and professional. “Their performance is laudable.” Meanwhile, IHC Journalists Association president Saqib Bashir said that the IHC has been hearing the petitions outside the court hours and the journalists have reported it. 

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