The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday warned former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Shamim that he’d to submit by Monday the notarized original copy of an affidavit in which he had leveled serious allegations against key actors in the judiciary. Failing to comply with the court orders by Monday would invite an indictment on contempt of court charges, the IHC warned the former judge. Chief Justice Athar Minallah presided over the hearing of contempt case, which involves an affidavit drafted by Shamim in which he had leveled serious allegations of judicial manipulation by the ex-chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar. Justice Minallah warned that there will be “consequences” for Rana Shamim if it’s learnt that he had the affidavit drafted for no other reason than to have it published. The judge said he could not give anyone permission to erode the public’s “confidence” in courts. “No independent judge can make the excuse that there was pressure on them,” he added, making reference to judges’ moral obligation to immediately report any attempts to influence the judicial process. Justice Minallah noted that the allegations leveled by Rana Shamim were not just against the former chief justice of Pakistan, they concerned a judge of the IHC as well. Rana Shamim’s counsel confirmed that the content of affidavit attributed to his client was indeed accurate. He, however, added that the affidavit was not supposed to be published. Responding to the query, amicus curiae Faisal Siddiqui said the affidavit did not seem suitable for publication as it was a private document. He told the court that ex-CJ Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Shamim was of view that he had been contacted only after publication of the article. However, the reporter maintains that he had approached the former judge before publication, Siddiqui noted. “The names of respected judges of this court were taken who were not even present in the country at that time. Why did Rana Shamim write an affidavit after three years? It must be for some purpose,” he further remarked. “The public was given the perception that the chief justice pressured judges of this court. The timing of the story’s publication is important because [the hearing] on an appeal is under way,” Justice Minallah observed, referring to Maryam Nawaz’s appeal against her conviction in the Avenfield reference.Justice Minallah noted that Shamim said he had not given his affidavit to the media, observing that the affidavits related to cases were submitted to the courts. Justice Minallah asked Shamim’s counsel, Latif Afridi, to view the case as amicus curiae and not in the role of Shamim’s lawyer.”The late Justice Waqar Seth never said that someone pressurised him,” he said. Justice Seth, who passed away last year, was the head of a three-member bench of a special court that found former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf guilty of high treason and handed him death sentence under Article 6 of the Constitution in 2019. The IHC chief justice asked Afridi to not treat the case as a matter of contempt of court. Afridi said his client had not rejected the affidavit but reiterated that the ex-judge had not given it to the media. “The content of the affidavit is accurate but it was not given for publication,” he said. “Where is the document right now?” the IHC chief justice questioned. The counsel informed the court that the original affidavit was with Shamim’s grandson, who was “underground” in the United Kingdom because he was being harassed. Justice Minallah remarked that people did not go into hiding in the UK, adding that the high court was being “targeted” and the submission of the original affidavit was necessary for progress in the case. Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan said he had written letters to Shamim and the Pakistan High Commission in the UK after the court’s written order on Nov 30 to assist with presenting the affidavit in the court. Responding to Afridi’s claim that Shamim’s grandson was being harassed in the UK, Khan termed it a serious matter and asked the lawyer to inform the court who was behind the harassment. Afridi argued that there had been three deaths within a short span of time in Shamim’s family and requested the court to allow the ex-GB chief justice to fly abroad so he could produce the original affidavit. “Rana Shamim does not need to go abroad. He cannot go abroad,” the IHC chief justice said, iterating that the original document was necessary to make progress in the case. If the ex-judge had written the affidavit for some other purpose and it was not meant for publication, there would be consequences, Justice Minallah warned. Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Afridi said Shamim “himself accepts that it (the affidavit) is correct. Whatever is in the affidavit, whatever happened, is correct”. Meanwhile, the IHC granted exemption to the editor-in-chief of a media group from appearing in person. Justice Minallah said the court had to keep in mind the prevalent international standards of journalism. “What is the responsibility of key officers in an organization when it comes to publishing news?” the IHC chief justice asked. In a related development, advocate general of Islamabad wrote a letter to the capital’s chief commissioner to start the process for putting Shamim’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL). “Rana Mohammad Shamim is facing contempt proceedings before the Honourable Islamabad High Court […] the respondent alleged contemnor is a flight risk. Should he flee the country, serious prejudice may be caused to the ongoing proceedings and in effect to the rule of law and independence of judiciary,” the letter stated and requested immediate action.