The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a petition filed by the federal government seeking contempt of court proceedings against former prime minister Imran Khan for allegedly violating the apex court’s May 25 order. The court also disposed of a petition filed by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association (IHCBA) President Muhammad Shoaib Shaheen that sought removal of blockades set up to stop the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI’s) Azadi March. A five-member larger bench of the court, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, heard the contempt of court petition. The application was moved by the federal government through the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Ashtar Ausaf. During the course of proceedings, the chief justice said that the bench had been formed to protect the constitutional rights. He asked the attorney general whether he believed the court’s directives had not been followed and some people had been injured after which law enforcement agencies took action. He observed that Article 16 which related to freedom of assembly and Article 17 which related to freedom of association ensured the right to protest but it was not unlimited. Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf pleaded the court’s permission to play a video recording of Imran Khan’s address to his supporters which was granted. He said that the PTI chief had told his supporters that the apex court had granted permission to protest at D-Chowk and he asked his supporters to reach D-Chowk. Upon this, the chief justice said that it was possible that the message was not delivered to Imran Khan properly. He said that the judicial proceedings could not be based on assumptions. The attorney general said that the PTI was granted permission to protest after assurances that the Azadi March would be peaceful. The chief justice said that the court had tried to establish trust between the parties involved through its orders a day earlier. He said that the court made efforts for citizens’ protection. He said that the PTI would also have several reservations with the government. The attorney general said that the assurances given to the court were not followed. Upon this, the chief justice said that whatever happened yesterday had ended today. He said that the court could not use the administration’s authority but it was always available for the people’s protection. The court had stopped authorities from raiding people’s homes for their protection and it would maintain its order, he added. He directed the government to do its work in line with Wednesday’s orders and said the court would issue a judgement regarding the case which would be an example for the future. He said that the court was not conducting proceedings in order to accuse anyone and it issued the order only against violation of constitutional rights. He said that the court was informed that police fired teargas shells yesterday. To this, the AGP argued that the government had to call the Pakistan Army in the capital last night. The chief justice said that the public’s constitutional rights were not unlimited and the court order sought to strike a balance between the respondents. The AGP said that 31 policemen were injured in stone-pelting by the protesters. Upon this, the Chief Justice responded that only the workers were clashing on the roads yesterday and not the leadership. He said that the protesters set fire to protect themselves from tear gas. He said that the government and the PTI should build mutual trust if they wanted the court’s moral support. He said that political conflict always harmed the country. The court would intervene in any matter of a political nature only if there was a solid reason, he added. “Political conflict always harms the country,” Justice Bandial observed. “The court will intervene in any matter of a political nature only if there is a solid reason.” He further observed that “becoming a danger for the system after taking the law into [your] own hands could harm the country”. The chief justice told the attorney general that the government should continue its work in accordance with the law. “The government should not violate court orders,” he directed. AGP Ausaf informed the court that Imran had given a speech near D-Chowk today in which he gave the government a six-day deadline. “He did not ask workers to go back. Government land worth millions was destroyed. If action is not taken, no one will implement assurances given to the court.” The chief justice recalled that a “similar” incident had taken place in the United States following presidential elections – a reference to the storming of the Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump. “Common people were out yesterday and showed irresponsibility.” At one point, the attorney general informed the court that roads had been opened again and detained workers had been released. Justice Bandial then asked whether the ground for the protest was still available to which the AGP responded, “The problem is [whether] the PTI will go to the ground.” The CJP said the court was dismissing the IHCBA petition because the roads had been opened again, adding that the matter would be taken up again if the court decided it was necessary. “The political temperature is high. It would not be correct to intervene,” Justice Bandial observed.