Firebrand PML-N leader Talal Chaudhry sentenced for contempt of court

The Supreme Court on Thursday held PML-N leader Talal Chaudhry in contempt of court, and sentenced him till the rising of the court, effectively rendering him disqualified to contest elections for a period of five years,

During his speech at a PML-N rally in Jarranwala in January 2018, Chaudhry had said: “There was an era when the Kaabah was full of idols. Today, the judiciary, which is the country’s highest institution, is also full of PCO [Provisional Constitution Order] idols.”

In the same speech, Chaudhry said: “Mian Nawaz Sharif, throw them out, throw him out of the court. They will not give justice but will continue their injustices.”

On February 1, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had taken suo motu notice of “contemptuous speeches”, and on February 6, the top court issued Chaudhry a show-cause notice, ordering him to file his response.

On July 11, the apex court, after hearing Chaudhry’s arguments, had closed the case and reserved its judgement, which it delivered today.

The three-judge bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed handed him a Rs100,000 fine and sentenced him till the rising of the court.

Legal observers believe that Chaudhry stands disqualified from contesting elections for five years under Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution, which says: “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen a member of the parliament if he has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for propagating any opinion or acting in any manner prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the armed forces of Pakistan.”

Chaudhry had contested the General Election from NA-102 (Faisalabad-II) but lost to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Nawab Shair by almost 12,000 votes.

The verdict in the contempt case against Chaudhry, and his subsequent disqualification for five years, is similar to that of his fellow PML-N leader and former privatisation minister Daniyal Aziz.