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IHC issues non-bailable arrest warrants for Islamabad DC in contempt case

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Irfan Nawaz Memon over his persistent non-appearance in a contempt case.

IHC’s Justice Babar Sattar also issued a show-cause notice to the DC.

The court had earlier indi­cted DC Memon, Senior Superintendent of Police Malik Jameel Zafar, Superintendent of Police Farooq Buttar and Margalla Police Station House Officer Nasir Manzoor for contempt in a case pertaining to the arrests of PTI leaders Sheharyar Afridi and Shandana Gulzar in September last year.

The PTI leaders were held by the police in connection with the May 9 violence, with Afridi first arrested on May 16 and Gulzar taken into custody on August 9. They were later released on August 16 after the IHC deemed responses submitted by the DC and SSP in the case as “unsatisfactory”.

It had also dismissed the DC’s petition against his indictment and rejected the unconditional apology of Memon and others for flouting the court orders.

On Monday, it emerged that DC Memon had obtained leave to travel abroad. The DC, who was also the district returning officer for the capital during the February 8 general elections, had applied for leave to travel abroad, officials from the capital administration had said.

Memon had told that he was indeed on leave until March 5 but refused to provide any more details. The request for over two weeks of leave was granted by the Islamabad chief commissioner.

Today, Justice Sattar presided over a hearing for the contempt case. However, DC Memon failed to appear in court.

According to the court order, Memon’s counsel informed the court that the DC was not present as he had left for Khairpur ahead of a trip to Saudi Arabia on Thursday (Feb 22).

It noted that Memon was already accused in the contempt case — which was being heard daily — and while a show-cause was already previously issued to him in August, proceedings in the matter were being delayed to accommodate the respondents and the convenience of their counsels.

“His counsel had informed the court on a previous hearing that the said respondent wished to proceed for Umrah on Feb 22 and was advised that the trial would hopefully be concluded before then. On Feb 19, respondent No.1 [Memon] sought exemption from personal appearance at the hearing today.

“This court did not grant exemption from personal appearance as the matter was fixed today for final arguments,” the IHC said.

“It is inexplicable how, despite the denial of an exemption from personal appearance, the DC could choose to defy the order of this court and choose not to appear before the court today even though the matter was fixed for final arguments and the time for hearing was fixed at 2:30pm on the request of the learned counsels for the parties to suit their convenience,” the order stated.

It further directed that non-bailable arrest warrants be issued for the DC’s production on Wednesday at 9am before the IHC.

It added that the arrest warrants should be executed by the Islamabad police chief or any of the provincial or territorial police chiefs in whose jurisdiction DC Memon was found or by the Federal Investigation Agency director general if Memon was found at an airport, seaport or border-crossing.

The court also ordered the interior ministry and director general of passports to place the DC’s name on the Exit Control List.

The order said that the DC was obligated to appear before the court since he had already been issued a show-cause notice and indicted.

“The petitioner was before the court yesterday … and it was in his presence that he was informed that his request for being granted exemption from appearance before the court at the hearing today is not being allowed.

“His refusal to abide by the order of this court and skip the hearing today without any plausible explanation, prima facie, constitutes contumacious contempt of the order of this court to appear in person today and appears to be aimed at delaying the adjudication of the matter and frustrating the proceedings from being concluded,” the order said.

The court directed that another show-cause notice be issued to the DC for why he should not be punished for such “defiance and obstruction of justice” under Sections 3, 5 and 17 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003, read together with Article 204 of the Constitution.