The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday observed that if the matter was related to the Constitution or the oppressed class, the courts will open at 3am. This observation came from Chief Justice Athar Minallah during the hearing of a petition against the harassment of anchorperson Arshad Sharif. Arshad Sharif’s lawyer Faisal Chaudhry appeared on behalf of the petitioner. At the outset of hearing, addressing Sharif and his lawyer Faisal Chaudhry Justice Athar Minallah asked if they had watched Kashif Abbasi’s programme. He said remarks were made without 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. Justice Minallah said he was sitting at home when the journalist’s channel was reporting that the IHC chief justice had reached the court and that the court had been opened, says a news report. “Do not make these statements for your own benefit,” the chief justice warned. He further maintained that a prisoner van had been called to the court at the time because protestors had gathered outside the court. “Only the lights of the IHC building had been turned on. What was the problem with that?” he asked. “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 were 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 had 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 had issued a written clarification in this regard. Journalist Afzal Butt, however, said that they respected the courts. “If it weren’t for the courts, the press wouldn’t be free,” he said, assuring the court that the matter would be discussed with TV anchors. Justice Minallah remarked that the court reporters were responsible and professional. “Their performance is laudable.” Meanwhile, IHC Journalists Association President Saqib Bashir said the IHC had been hearing the petitions outside the court hours and the journalists had reported it.