KARACHI, Sept 11: An anti-terrorism court withdrew on Thursday the contempt of court proceedings against the officials of a private TV channel after the judge accepted the unconditional apologies of all the contemners.
Judge Arshad Noor Khan of the ATC-3 had initiated the contempt proceedings against the officials of the ARY Digital and others for telecasting derogatory remarks on the judiciary by a condemned prisoner.
The contempt of court proceedings against S. M. Shakeel, Haji Abdur Rauf, Javed Hasan Ansari, and Dr. Shahid Masood of the TV channel and provincial jail chief, Brig Nisar Mehar, superintendent of Central Prison, Karachi, Rashid Saeed, and a condemned prisoner, Shaikh Mohammed Amjad, were initiated on an application filed by Fazalur Rahman.
Haji Abdur Rauf, younger brother of Haji Abdur Razzaq Yaqoob of the ARY group, appeared before the court and said that he was one of the directors of Aysha Electronics, which had nothing to do with the ARY Digital.
When asked why he did not appear before the court despite the publication of the notice against him in newspapers, contemner Haji Rauf told the court that he was non-matric and could not read and write either Urdu or English. “He cannot even read his mother tongue, Gujrati”, his counsel interrupted.
The tape of the apology, aired by the ARY, was also placed before the court and it was seen in the open court.
The judge had earlier ordered the TV channel to telecast the unconditional and unqualified apology they tendered in the court in a contempt of court case.
The alleged contemner S. M. Shakil and Javed Hassan Ansari, chief operating officer of the ARY Communication (Pvt) Ltd, who had earlier filed their respective unconditional apologies, also appeared before the court. The judge also accepted their respective apologies.
Similarly, Rashid Saeed, former superintendent of Central Prison, also appeared before the court and filed a fresh unconditional apology, withdrawing his earlier statement. The judge also vacated the notice against him.
As for contemner Shaikh Amjad, who had kidnapped and killed Barrister Shakir Latif, the 22-year-old son of the applicant, the judge observed: “A prudent man can expect anything worst from a condemned prisoner and he may pass further contemptuous and derogatory remarks against the court for the simple reason that the punishment of contempt of court is very meagre in comparison to the capital punishment. In such a state of affair, I deem it not proper to proceed any further against contemner Shaikh Muhammed Amjad. In view of the aforesaid circumstances, the contempt proceedings against him are also dropped”.
According to the notice, the TV channel staffers recorded and telecast the interview of condemned prisoner Shaikh Mohammad Amjad, who made derogatory, insulting and objectionable assertion against the ATC-3 and apex courts.
Shaikh Amjad was condemned to death by the ATC-3 for kidnapping and killing the son of his next-door neighbour for ransom. He was caught red-handed while phoning the victim’s father from a public booth. He challenged the conviction in the Sindh High Court and subsequently in the Supreme Court, which upheld the verdict of the trial court. His review petition was also dismissed by the SC a couple of days ago.
Mr Fazalur Rahman submitted in the court that Shaikh Amjad accused the trial court of using force and torturing him in recording his statement. He also quoted the convict as saying that his tempered statement was presented to the high court.
In his application, Mr Rahman said the scene created by the ARY Digital in presenting the programme gave an impression in the general public that the law courts were biased and functioning only to punish poor and give relief to rich people. “Bald headed young girls behind the bars were shown crying and begging for mercy, thus creating a feeling of hatred against the judicial system of Pakistan.