ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday convicted Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and former state minister Talal Chaudhry in a contempt of court case and sentenced him till the rising of the court. A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmad, also imposed a fine of Rs 100,000 on the PML-N leader, who also stands ineligible to contest elections for the next five years for violating Article 204 of the constitution.Talal was ordered by the apex court to ensure his presence during the proceedings, which were based on a suo motu notice on his ‘anti-judiciary’ speech during a party rally in Jaranwala in January this year. He appeared in the court along with his counsel Kamran Murtaza. Legal experts say though the PML-N leader retains the right to file a review petition, however in contempt cases it is very unlikely that a verdict is reversed.Talal’s punishment lasted for a little over two hours as he remained confined inside Courtroom No 3 since the bench continued hearing cases and even took a tea break in between. His punishment was over once the bench concluded hearing cases. Addressing media following his conviction, Talal claimed that the decision strengthened the impression that the PML-N was neither acceptable before the polls nor after it. He claimed the pending case benefitted his opponents during electioneering as they warned constituents against voting for him claiming he would be disqualified.Reiterating his ‘not-guilty’ stance, Talal said a review appeal against the top court’s verdict will be filed. “I had requested the Supreme Court numerous times that I did not intend or plan to be contemptuous.” He claimed similar cases against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan and Pakistani Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri had been dismissed. He said the judiciary’s respect will not increase just through contempt of court sentences. “It’s respect will increase the day the courts hand out sentences for contempt of the constitution,” he said.“We saw our people getting martyred just to see the respect of the judiciary increase,” he said. “And if today’s sentence increases the judiciary’s respect, I accept it because I am a democrat. It’s because I took the oath to protect the constitution and because I am a follower of Nawaz Sharif.” Talal said that justice will prevail in the country when dictators are hanged. According to him, the PML-N’s leaders and workers are patriots. “There is no question about our patriotism and honesty,” he said.Published in Daily Times, August 3rd 2018.