Sunday, October 19, 2008

Judiciary in Pakistan - 11

More Dirt on the so-called Love Affair of Nawaz Sharif/Shahbaz Sharif - PML-N and Free Judiciary in Pakistan:

Storming of the Supreme Court By Ardeshir Cowasjee

21 November 1999 Sunday 12 Shaban 1420

AN affidavit in the case of the storming of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (Cr. Appeal 162/99 arising out of Cr.Misc.27/98) was sworn on November 17, 1999, and placed on the Supreme Court record:

"I, Ardeshir Cowasjee, son of Rustom Fakirjee Cowasjee, Parsi, adult, resident of 10 Mary Road, Karachi, do hereby solemnly state :

"1. Instigated, supported and aided by the leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) party then in power, legislators, party members and street activists of the party stormed the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the morning of November 28, 1997.

"2. On December 13, 1997, I wrote and sent the following letter to the then Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Ajmal Mian : 'Gravest contempt committed in the face of the Supreme Court of Pakistan at Islamabad whilst the court was in session on Friday November 28 1997 'Sent herewith :

'1) A copy of the manuscript of my column sent to Dawn to be printed in my regular slot on Sunday, December 14.

'2) A video cassette.

'3) A copy of the manuscript of my column printed in Dawn on Sunday, December 7, with excised passages highlighted.

'You will undoubtedly appreciate the urgency of the matter. Apparently, encouraged by the successful storming of the Supreme Court on November 28, a fortnight later a mob invaded the court of a civil judge at Faisalabad.

'It is my firm belief, which, needless to say, is shared by many others, that, as is the case with Benazir Bhutto, her family and followers, Nawaz Sharif and his adherents can neither tolerate nor survive a strong united judiciary.

'If Nawaz does survive beyond the next six months, he will find ways to remove you.'

"3. On December 15, 1997, the Acting Chief Justice appointed Abdur Rehman Khan, J, of the Supreme Court to hold an inquiry for the following purposes :

'(1) examine what steps the Federal Government has taken against the persons responsible for the incident on 28/11/97 at the Supreme Court premises and at what level investigation is being carried out as also the stage of investigation; and also to examine the various communications/information which have been received by this Court from various sources, including members of the public.

'(2) to suggest what steps/ actions the Supreme Court should take/initiate in the above matter and for avoiding such incidents in future.'

"4, On February 18, 1998, two months later, not satisfied with what he could establish, the government of the day for obvious reasons being non-cooperative, Justice Abdur Rahman reported back to the Chief Justice suggesting, inter alia :

'(C)(i) As the action of those individuals who forced their entry into the court premises and raised slogans against the judiciary prima facie amounts to gross contempt of this Court but, except for some of them, most of such individuals have yet to be identified, it is considered appropriate that the Hon'ble Chief Justice may constitute a Bench of the Court to initiate contempt proceedings for the outrageous incident of 28/11/97. The Bench so constituted can adopt such measures and take such actions as it may deem necessary to identify the concerned persons. Once the concerned persons are identified, the Court can then issue notice to them and then take further action under Article 204 of the Constitution and the applicable law. Necessity for initiating such action immediately is felt because of paramount importance of the matter as the sanctity, dignity and respect of the apex Court of the country is involved. Street power should not be allowed to coerce and intimidate the judiciary.'

"5. On February 25, 1998, the Chief Justice issued the following order :

'Pursuant to the recommendation contained in para (C)(i) of the report, I constitute a Bench comprising Mr Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, Mr Justice Munawar Ahmad Mirza and Mr Justice Abdur Rahman Khan to identify the persons involved in the incident of 28th November, 1997, and to initiate contempt proceedings as recommended in the above para ....... '

"6. Pursuant to the order of the Chief Justice, Criminal Miscellaneous 27/98 was registered and proceedings in the case were commenced on March 2, 1998.

"7. Between March 25, 1998 (on which date I was for the first time summoned to give evidence), and May 21, 1998, I attended eleven of the hearings held from the commencement of the identification proceedings on March 2, 1998, to their completion on June 15, 1998. It was my distinct impression, and the impression of many others who attended these hearings, that the Attorney-General of Pakistan, Chaudhry Farooq, lawyer of the Ittefaq group of industries, and his assistants did their utmost to protect the leaders of the Muslim League (N) and the men who had stormed the court rather than prosecute them. Chaudhry Farooq himself having been accused of the grossest contempt in the face of the court of Mr Justice Munir A. Shaikh could obviously not have done otherwise.

"8. The actual storming of the Supreme Court (within the building) was recorded on two of the Court's closed circuit television cameras and whereas these were seen on a screen by the Bench and the Attorney-General on March 11, 1998, despite my request, these two cassettes were not shown subsequently in the courtroom whilst witnesses were being examined.

"9. Names of witnesses who could have given valuable evidence were submitted to the Court but all these witnesses were not called. As is recorded on p.5, serial no.4, of Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid's judgment in the matter :

'Other persons made applications to the Court for being examined. Whenever the Court considered necessary, such persons were called and their statements recorded.'

"10. Whilst giving evidence, I accused the former prime minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, and other members of the party in power of having masterminded and organized the storming of the Court. However, the Court did not find it necessary to summon such members of the ruling party to give evidence.

"11. Senator Saifur Rahman, former chief of the Ehtesab Bureau, was clearly shown on the cassette which I submitted to the Court. It was very evident that he was exhorting the crowd to storm Courtroom No.1 where contempt proceedings against the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and other parliamentarians were being heard that day. Khwaja Asif, PML MNA, was also identified but not charged, as was the case with PML MPAs Chaudhry Tanveer and Mian Abdul Sattar. Former Information Minister Mushahid Hussain and the former political secretary to the prime minister, Mushtaq Tahirkheli, were clearly shown on the BBC film of the storming crowd outside the Supreme Court as being members of that crowd. None of these members of the ruling party were charged.

"12. During the course of the investigation proceedings it was not deemed necessary by the Court to inquire into the background and run-up to the storming of the Court, nor into the reasons why it was engineered.

"13. On July 3, 1998, show cause notices were directed to be issued to 26 respondents, and such notices were issued on October 11, 1998.

"14. On March 1 1999, further proceedings against eight activists of the Muslim League were postponed until the decision of the criminal case against them (FIR 229/97, PS Secretariat, Islamabad), and apologies tendered by ten officers of the police and administration were accepted. The show cause notice to Mushtaq Tahirkheli was withdrawn. Contempt charges were framed against two MNAs, four MPAs, and one PML (N) activist.

"15. On May 5, 1999, I was again summonded to give evidence and made the following statement: 'I accuse the Prime Minister and the ruling party of storming the court on 28 November, 1997. They obstructed the course of justice (p.18 judgment of May 14, 1999).

"16. The judgment of May 14, 1999, signed by the three judges acquitted the seven respondents, as charges of contempt were not established against any of them on the basis of the evidence produced before them. The judgment impliedly held that no one had been responsible for the storming of the Supreme Court on November 28, 1997.

"17. Crl. Appeal 162/99 against the judgment of May 14, 1999, is to be heard on November 19, 1999, by a Supreme Court Bench of 12, and for the first time notice has been issued to the PML (N) at House No.4, Khayaban-e-Iqbal, F-7/3, Islamabad.

"18. Now, with the suspension of the PML (N) government and the new government in power, government functionaries and law enforcers will feel free to give evidence, as may certain members of the PML (N) itself. There will be no apprehension that the administration will coerce and intimidate witnesses. For this reason, it will be in the interest of justice and of the institution of the judiciary that Criminal Miscellaneous Application 27/98 be heard by the Supreme Court de novo .

"19. It is accordingly prayed that the honourable court set aside the judgment of the three members Bench and direct that the case be heard de novo . "

On November 18 a letter was sent to Attorney-General Aziz Munshi, attaching a copy of the affidavit and stating, inter alia :

"You are the first law officer of the people and they are justified in their assumption that you will plead that the case be heard de novo."

Munshi delivered. Seven hundred and twenty-two days after the Court was stormed, thirty-eight days after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his ruling party were deposed, the Supreme Court sent a notice to Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, president of his own Muslim League group and former head of government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Storming of the Supreme Court By Ardeshir Cowasjee

28 November 1999 Sunday 19 Shaban 1420

AN affidavit in the case of the storming of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (Cr.Appeal 162/99 arising out of Cr.Misc.27/98) was sworn on November 27, 1999, and placed on record in the Supreme Court of Pakistan:

"I, Ardeshir Cowasjee, son of Rustom Fakirjee Cowasjee, resident of 10 Mary Road, Karachi, do hereby place on record a letter dated November 26, 1999, written by me to Mr. Aziz Munshi, the Attorney General of Pakistan:

"Dear Mr. Attorney-General

"1) It is not necessary for me to remind you -

-That no democracy can survive without checks and balances, institutional or otherwise.

-That the last sham democracy we have suffered, imposed upon us by Mian Nawaz Sharif, has destroyed all but one institution of state capable of checking his megalomania, his avarice for pelf and power, and his abuse of power.

-That when institutions are corrupted, in the eyes of the people those who corrupt as well as those who tamely allow themselves to be corrupted are all equally culpable. However, a megalomaniac must be deemed to be less culpable than those who profess to be burdened by the halos they wear.

- That in order to protect itself when in the wrong, one institution, misusing its power, has been known to employ intimidatory measures against another institution. Case in point: excised by the editor (self-censorship) from my Dawn column of 28/12/97 (Fascism on the march-IV) : "Is there any reasonable man in Pakistan prepared to believe that three honourable judges of the Supreme Court, Justices Irshad Hasan Khan, Nasir Aslam Zahid, and Khalilur Rahman, sitting in far away Quetta in the month of November, were capable of acting as they did on their own? What transpired in cold Quetta and the repercussions thereafter, which defy logic and reason, is a story that will haunt our superior judiciary for years to come." When I brought this to the attention of the then law minister, Khalid Anwer, his comment was: "Since I have no desire to see you hauled up under our antiquated and irrational law of contempt, I can only applaud your editor's discretion."

"2) Whilst investigating a crime, it is vital to the case to look into its background and the motives which prompted the crime."3) Instigated, supported and aided by the leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) party then in power, legislators, party members and street activists of the party stormed the Supreme Court on November 28, 1997, committing the gravest contempt in the face of the court in judicial history. The president of the ruling party, Nawaz Sharif, and his dastardly aides committed the crime with impunity, safe in their knowledge that no court in the country would convict them.

"4) The run-up to the disgraceful storming began in August 1997, when CJP Sajjad Ali Shah recommended the names of the five senior-most high court judges for elevation to the SC. The filling of the five vacant positions was long overdue. The government response to the request was to issue a notification reducing the strength of SC judges from 17 to 12.

"5) Early in September 1997, the Supreme Court Bar Association challenged this reduction and the SC admitted its petition. The Court suspended the notification, which was withdrawn by the government, but which held the appointment of the five judges in abeyance. The government subsequently backed down and the petition was disposed of.

"6) On October 9, 1997, CJP Shah flew to Saudi Arabia. The next day, Acting Chief Justice Ajmal Mian claimed that he had not been consulted on the elevation of the five judges. Eight other Supreme Court judges sent him a requisition for the convening of a full-court meeting to discuss the matter. ACJ Mian gave notice for such a meeting to be held on the 13th of the month.

"7)CJP Shah flew back on the 13th and cancelled the full-court meeting.

"8) On October 17, seven judges of the SC asked CJP Shah to convene a full-court meeting. He rejected their requisition.

"9) On October 20, in an unprecedented move, five judges of the SC addressed a letter to CJP Shah challenging his appointment and released to the press the text of their letter.

"10) On October 25, Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan challenged the 14th Amendment and on October 29 a bench of the SC passed an interim order suspending the amendment, terming it 'anti-dissent'. That same day a joint parliamentary group declared - verbal war on the superior judiciary, the prime minister calling the suspension 'unconstitutional' and several of his parliamentarians from the floor of the National Assembly condemning in violent language the action of the CJP.

"11) On October 30, a Bench of the Supreme Court passed an order invoking Article 190 of the Constitution and requested President Farooq Leghari to appoint the five judges to the five vacant positions. The president warned the government that he may be compelled to do so, whereupon the prime minister backed down and agreed to the elevations.

"12) On October 31, a petition was filed challenging the 13th Amendment, and contempt petitions were also filed against the prime minister and seven other parliamentarians.

"13) On November 3, the SC issued pre-contempt notices to the prime minister, to the law minister, to five other parliamentarians, and to the editors of three newspapers. Barrister S M Zafar appeared for the PM and sought one month's time to prepare and file his written statement. He was given one week.

"14) On November 12, contempt notices were issued to the PM and the others asking them to appear and to file their written replies.

"15) On November 14, Information Minister Mushahid Hussain announced that the PM had decided to make a personal appearance in the SC which he duly did on November 17.

"16) On the night of November 17-18, at a post-midnight session, the National Assembly passed a bill amending the contempt of court law, allowing an intra-court appeal to 'the remaining judges' against a Supreme Court show-cause notice or conviction for contempt of court.

"17) On the morning of November 18, an SC bench in Quetta (JJ Nasir Aslam Zahid, Irshad Hassan Khan and Khalilur Rehman Khan) admitted a petition challenging the appointment of the CJP and asking that he convene a full court to decide the matter.

"18) On November 19, the PM publicly criticized President Farooq Leghari for delaying the signing of the Contempt of Court (Amendment) Bill. On the 20th, Leghari issued a statement saying he would not sign the bill on the insistence of one man; the SC heard petitions challenging the bill, and issued an interim order asking the president not to sign the bill, which, if already signed, would be considered suspended. To this, the PML(N) parliamentary group demanded the impeachment of the president, the cabinet approved, signatures were sought, and the decision taken to give notice at that evening's Senate session.

"19) On November 21, the SC issued a notice to the government in the 13th amendment case and refused to grant interim relief. The hearing was adjourned to the 27th.

"20) On the night of November 25, Senator R.A.Tarar, was sent in a special flight to Quetta to use his persuasive powers on the SC judges sitting there. On November 26, two members of the Quetta bench of the SC (JJ Irshad Hasan Khan and Khalilur Rahman Khan) issued an interim order suspending CJP Shah, challenging his out-of-turn elevation, and restraining him from the performance of his functions. CJP Shah termed this order illegal. (The order was signed that night by the third member of the Quetta Bench, Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, who was out of Quetta when the order was issued.)

"21) On November 27, a bench of five judges of the SC at Islamabad annulled the verdict of the Quetta bench. PML(N) parliamentarians and activists present in the courtroom insulted and heckled the judges, refused to accept the authority of the court, shouting that 'Sajjad Ali Shah' had no right to be there as he had been suspended. That same day, a two-member Peshawar bench of the SC (JJ Saeeduzaman Siddiqui and Fazal Illahi Khan) called for a full-court bench to decide the matter of the validity of the CJP's appointment.

"22) On the night of November 27-28, having completed all arrangements for transporting a mob of PML(N) workers and activists from various areas of the Lahore region, Senator Saifur Rahman and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif flew into Islamabad from Lahore in the CM's special plane.

"23) At 0700 on the morning of November 28, Lt-General Rana, then heading the ISI, informed COAS General Jehangir Karamat that a mob had been organized to raid the SC whilst the contempt case against prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, was being heard. You, I, and the world at large know well the sordid details of the demeaning and shameful events that followed on that day of November 28, 1997.

"May I suggest, now that the storming case has been reopened, that in addition to those already summoned, President Tarar, Shahbaz Sharif, Saifur Rehman, former CJP Sajjad Ali Shah, former President Leghari and Lt-General Rana, all be called to give evidence.

"The Court was stormed two years ago on November 28, 1997. The verdict in the contempt case, acquitting the few insignificant members of the storming party who had been charged, was given on May 14, 1999, over 500 days later. We must hope that the rehearing of this case will be completed expeditiously."

Storming of the Supreme Court By Ardeshir Cowasjee

01 October 2000 Sunday 02 Rajab 1421

AFFIDAVIT sworn at Karachi on September 27, 2000:

"In The Supreme Court of Pakistan (Cr. Appeal 162/99)...... I, Ardeshir Cowasjee ........ in reference to a front-page news report published in Dawn, the newspaper of record, on September 19, 2000, headed 'Rowdyism at SC: Respondents seek mercy' (Attachment 1) in which has been reported '... After conferring with his clients, the counsel said that his clients had thrown at (sic.) the mercy of the court. Referring to SC judgment in Masroor Ahsan vs. Ardeshir Cowasjee', counsel said that whenever the accused threw himself at the mercy of the court the court showed magnanimity....', do hereby affirm:

1) That the above news item implies that in Cr.O.P. 5/95, Masroor Ahsan v. Ardeshir Cowasjee, Mr Ahmad Ali Khan, Editor, Dawn and Mr Ghulam Ali A Mirza, Printer & Publisher, Dawn, the Respondents, threw themselves at the mercy of the court.

2) That, the factual position is, no charges were framed against any of the Respondents and that no Respondent threw himself at the mercy of the court. It is requested that the court record may be accordingly corrected.

3) That I attach hereto a copy of my unrefuted column published in Dawn on May 23, 1999, entitled Not guilty?' (Attachment 2). Particular reference is made to the following passages:

(a) "At 0300 hours on Friday, November 28, 1997, the landing strip of the Islamabad airport was lit up. Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif flew in, having wished God Speed to his party stalwarts travelling by road from Lahore to the capital city. He had come to witness his stormers perform and to arrange a post-storming celebratory luncheon at Punjab House."

(b) "With him, amongst others, was Senator Saifur Rahman. Saif was later to deny having had anything to do with the transportation of the hordes, explaining that he had 'rushed' to Lahore the evening before to visit a judge of the Supreme Court. Having met His Lordship at 11 o'clock at night, he had hitched a ride back with Shahbaz."

(c) "At 0730 hours the same day, Lt General Nasim Rana, then heading the ISI, called on COAS General Jehangir Karamat to report that a large crowd of ruling party men had left Lahore the previous night and was now congregating in Islamabad preparing to storm the Supreme Court. General Karamat played by the book and asked Rana to warn the man whose orders he obeyed, Nawaz Sharif, prime and defence minister. Another general in Karamat's place would have perhaps ordered a company of the 111 Brigade to conduct a 'move' exercise around the Supreme Court and the Parliament area that morning. The army is, after all, responsible for the security of the people and their institutions."

(d) "The plan to oust Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, which had taken root as early as August 21, 1997, succeeded and he was deposed."

(e) "On December 13, 1997, fifteen days after the event, I addressed an open letter to Acting Chief Justice Ajmal Mian [my column, 14/12/97), requesting that "it be accepted as a petition and that he take suo moto action, for the gravest contempt committed in the face of the court, against those who stormed the Supreme Court on November 28, 1997 as well as those responsible for organizing, paying, and directing them to so do, and that severe deterrent punishment be handed down to all of them. Collectively responsible and guilty is the entire federal cabinet and its primus inter pares". Together with the letter, I sent him a video cassette which clearly showed the storming of the court and in which several Muslim League leaders were identified."

(f) "Acting Chief Justice Ajmal Mian moved with trepidation. He referred to the 'storming' as a 'very serious incident of rowdyism.' By his order dated 15/12/97 he appointed Abdur Rahman Khan, J. to hold an inquiry.

Two months later, on 18/2/98, Justice Rahman submitted a report in which, inter alia, he stated: 'As the action of those individuals who forced their entry into the court premises and raised slogans against the judiciary prima facie amounts to gross contempt of this court..... it is considered appropriate that the honourable Chief Justice may constitute a Bench of the court to instigate contempt proceedings for the outrageous incident of 28/11/97. The bench so constituted can adopt such measures and take such actions as it may deem necessary to identify the concerned persons ..... the necessity for initiating such action immediately is felt because of paramount importance of the matter as the sanctity, dignity and respect of the apex court of the country is involved. Street power should not be allowed to coerce and intimidate the judiciary'."

(g) "The hearing of the contempt case began on 21/2/99 before a Bench of three headed by Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, the same Bench that had conducted the inquiry. I was asked to appear before it on May 6 as a prosecution witness. I was further directed: "If you wish to place on record any material regarding the incident, you are requested to send the same in advance." I sent a copy of the video cassette of the recording of the court's own CCTV cameras and fourteen documents, all of which had been handed over to the Supreme Court and/or the DAG between December 1997 and May 1998, i.e. prior to and during the course of the inquiry hearing of Cr.Misc.27/98."

(h) "Before the Court on May 6, I challenged the capacity and capability of the DAG to prosecute, and handed over a statement suggesting that it was still not too late to appoint a special prosecutor, in conformity with current international judicial norms and practices, who is able to prosecute the case in an unbiased manner. The statement was accepted on record and the DAG was directed to sit down. The judges asked whether I had any statement to make. I accused the prime minister and the ruling party of having stormed the court on November 28, 1997, and of obstructing the course of justice. On what basis had I made my statement? I was asked. On the basis of the video cassette and of all the documents already sent to the court. During cross examination by a defence lawyer it was "put" to me that my accusation was malafide and made out of malice. "Right or wrong?" he asked. Wrong, I replied, and there the matter ended."

(i) "On May 14, 1999, over one and a half years after the storming, the judgment was delivered. Statements made under oath, the video cassette recording, newspaper clippings - all these were not considered to be evidence."

4) That with regard to the above cited passages, I have the following elaborations/questions:

(a) Mian Shahbaz Sharif flew to Islamabad in his special plane at dead of night. Why?

(b) Which Supreme Court judge did Saifur Rahman call upon at 2300 hours?

(c) A 'move' exercise would have entailed a company of 111 Brigade motoring up and down the Constitution Avenue without resorting to action.

(d) From the statement filed in the court by Senator Iqbal Haider on May 25, 1998. This was followed by the clandestine visit to the judges of the Quetta Bench of the honourable Supreme Court by the envoy of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Senator Rafiq Ahmad Tarar, whereafter the Quetta judgment of November 28, 1997, was delivered by Justices Irshad Hasan Khan and Khalilur Rahman Khan.

(e) The video cassette of the film recorded by the CCTV cameras installed in the Supreme Court building was considered sufficient evidence by Chief Justice Ajmal Mian to order a judicial inquiry into the storming.

(f) Justice Abdur Rahman Khan confirmed that the storming had coerced and intimidated the judiciary. A clear case of contempt in the face of the court.

(g) All the evidence remains on record of the Supreme Court.

(h) On the production of evidence recorded by the court cameras a judicial inquiry was conducted and contempt proceedings followed.

5) That in the interests of the "sanctity, dignity and respect of the apex court of the country", I submit that Mian Nawaz Sharif, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Saifur Rahman, Lt General Nasim Rana, and the journalists present in court on November 28, 1997, be summoned to give evidence under oath.

6) That I request that this affidavit and its attachments be taken on record.

7) That whatever is stated above is true and correct."

We must be thankful to providence for small mercies, and our honourable judiciary should be thankful to journalist Shahid Orakzai for his persistence. Three chief justices later and a thousand days down the road from the November 28, 1997, storming of the supreme court, Orakzai and his tenacity have enabled the court to restore, to some extent, its damaged image. Seven of the hundreds of stormers have been convicted and now that the second investigation ball has been lobbed to a superintendent of police, it is just possible that a few Untersturmfuehrers will be convicted equally swiftly. This is certainly not the end of the story.

The storming of the Supreme Court - II By Ardeshir Cowasjee

08 October 2000 Sunday 09 Rajab 1421

A letter written to Chief Justice of Pakistan Irshad Hassan Khan, on Friday, October 6 2000 :

"Dear Chief Justice

"Storming of the Supreme Court - November 28 1997

"Following the normal practice regarding sworn affidavits and other papers addressed to the Registry or Judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan at Islamabad, my affidavit sworn on September 27 2000 was presented to the Deputy Registrar at the Supreme Court Registry at Karachi. The Deputy Registrar refused to accept it, and I was asked to send it to the Registrar at Islamabad.

"A special courrier was flown to Islamabad and the sealed enveloped containing the affidavit was handed over to the Registrar at 0830 hours on September 28. The sealed enveloped was bounced from one office to another (the courrier's travails have been conveyed to you by my letter of September 29 2000) and finally the unopened sealed envelope was handed back to the courrier by the Deputy Registrar at 1300 hours that same day. On the receipt he wrote : 'Applications received by mail are not entertained. Hence returned.'

"I have been advised that no rule, regulation or law has been changed which empowers a deputy registrar of the Supreme Court stationed at any registry in the country to refuse to accept any communication.

"If this be wrong, may I (and the people) please be informed.

"By your judgment delivered on September 28 2000, 1,034 days after the Storming of the Supreme Court, seven 'footstormtroopers' have been convicted and the buck was passed on to 'a superintendent of police'. In this regard, I send herewith copies of editorials from the national press : Dawn, October 1; The Nation, Sept 30, and The News, September 30 2000.

"Also sent is a reproduction of excerpts from my column 'Storming of the Supreme Court - 2' printed in Dawn on April 5 1998."

The excerpts sent : "The people must not forget that this is the first case of its kind in the recorded judicial history of any democracy. It is unprecedented that a ruling party, a government of the day, has committed contempt 'in the face of the court' by perverting the course of justice with a preplanned invasion.

"Morris v Crown Office was the first case in Britain in which the Court of Appeal had to consider 'contempt in the face of the Court'. The Rt Hon Lord Denning, then the Master of the Rolls, in his book 'The Due Process of Law', published in 1980, devotes a chapter to the dramatic invasion of the court by a group of Welsh students who were upset because programmes to Wales were being broadcast in English and not in Welsh. He recounts :

" 'Eleven young students had been sentenced to prison. Each for three months. They were all from the University of Aberystwyth. They were imbued with Welsh fervour. They had been sentenced on Wednesday, 4 February 1970. I always see that urgent cases are dealt with expeditiously. We started their appeal on Monday, 9 February and decided it on Wednesday, 11 February. I also have some say in the constitution of the court, so I arranged for one of the Welsh Lords Justices to sit. Lord Justice Arthian Davies was well qualified. He was not only Welsh. He could speak Welsh. He sat with Lord Justice Salmon and me. We heard the argument on Monday and Tuesday. We discussed the case on Wednesday morning and delivered judgment on the Wednesday afternoon.' He goes on to give extracts from this judgement (1970 2 QB 114).

" 'Last Wednesday, just a week ago, Lawton J, a judge of the High Court here in London, was sitting to hear a case. It was a libel case between a naval officer and some publishers. He was trying it with a jury. It was no doubt an important case, but for the purposes of today it could have been the least important. It matters not. For what happened was serious indeed. A group of students, young men and young women, invaded the court. It was clearly pre-arranged. They had come all the way from their University of Aberystwyth. They strode into the well of the court. They flocked into the public gallery. They shouted slogans. They sang songs. They broke up the hearing. The judge had to adjourn. They were removed. Order was restored.

" 'When the judge returned to the court, three of them were brought before him. He sentenced each of them to three months' imprisonment for contempt of court. The others were kept in custody until the rising of the court. Nineteen were then brought before him. The judge asked each of them whether he or she was prepared to apologise. Eight of them did so. The judge imposed a fine of fifty pounds on each of them and reequired them to enter into recognisances to keep the peace. Eleven of them did not apologise. They did it, they said, as a matter of principle and so did not feel able to apologise. The judge sentenced each of them to imprisonment for three months for contempt of court.

" 'In sentencing these young people in this way the judge was exercising a jurisdiction which goes back for centuries. It was well described over 200 years ago by Wilmot Jr in an opinion which he prepared but never delivered. 'It is a necessary incident,' he said, 'to every court of justice to fine and imprison for contempt of the court acted in the face of it.' That is R v Almon (1765) Wilm 243 254. The phrase 'contempt in the face of the court' had a quaint old-fashioned ring about it; but the imporatnce of it is this; of all the places where law and order must be maintained, it is here in these courts. The course of justice must not be deflected or interefered with. Those who strike at it, strike at the very foundations of our society. To maintain law and order, the judges have, and must have, power at once to deal with those who offend against it. It is a great power - a power instantly to imprison a person without trial - but it is a necessary power. So necessary, indeed, that until recently the judges exercised it without any appeal. There were previously no safeguards against a judge exercising his jurisdiction wrongly or unwisely. This was remedied in the year 1960. An appeal now lies to this court; and, in a suitable case, from this court to the House of Lords. With these safeguards this jurisdiction can and should be maintained.

" 'Eleven of these young people have exercised the right to appeal and we are here concerned with their liberty : and our law puts liberty of the subject before all else.......

" '(The Advocate conducting the defence] says that the sentences were excessive, at the time they were given and in the circumstances then existing. Here was a deliberate intereference with the course of justice .... It was necessary for the judge to show that this kind of thing cannot be tolerated. Let students demonstrate .... But they must do it by lawful means and not by unlawful. It they strike at the course of justice in this land .... they strike at the roots of society itself, and they bring down that which protects them. It is only by the maintenance of law and order that they are privileged to be students and to study and live in peace. So let them support the law, not strike it down.'

"Also on the matter of contempt and on the need for courts to maintain their dignity and authority, Lord Denning quotes from his judgment in the case of Balogh v St Albans Crown Court (1975 1 QB 73).

"The judges should not hesistate to exercise the authority they inherited frm the past. Insults are to be treated with disdain - save where they are gross and scandalous. Refusal to answer with admonishment - save where it is vital to know the answer. But disruption of the court or threats to witnesses or to jurors should be visited with immediate arrest. Then a remand in custody and, if it can be arranged, representation by counsel. If it comes to a sentence, let it be such as the offence deserves - with the comforing reflection that, if it is in error, there is an appeal to this court ....".

"In the case of the Welsh students, the Court was invaded on February 4, they were sentenced on Februarty 4, the appeal was heard on February 9 and decided on February 11. All within the space of one week."

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