ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered the chief executive and anchorperson of a private television network on Thursday to submit the transcript of a ‘scandalous and defamatory’ programme aired by the channel against the judiciary.
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk had taken up an intra-court appeal against the court’s Oct 13 order of indicting ARY CEO Salman Iqbal and anchorperson Mubashir Lucman over the contents of talk show ‘Khara Such’ aired on May 29.
In the programme, Mr Lucman had levelled a number of defamatory allegations against Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja – his close relationship with Mir Shakeelur Rehman, the owner of Geo TV network, and the sale of a property in Lahore to the Punjab government by the wife of the judge.
During the proceedings on Thursday, senior counsel Irfan Qadir, representing the two respondents, argued that Salman Iqbal had no role whatsoever in any contemptuous utterance and said he held the judiciary in high esteem.
It is unthinkable for him to utter even the slightest derogatory, scandalous or contemptuous word against the judiciary.
The counsel said the decision by a different bench to frame contempt charges against the respondent was devoid of jurisdictional facts.
Similarly, he said, Mr Lucman also respected the judiciary as well as both de jure and de facto judges.
The bench asked Mr Qadir to explain what he meant by de jure judges and observed that the counsel wanted to provoke the court when it was demonstrating restraint.
The counsel said the Supreme Court was seized with a review petition filed by the Pakistan Bar Council against the July 31, 2009 judgment which had sent a large number of judges home. He argued that the Oct 13 order of indicting the respondents emanated from a vague notice wherein it was never pointed out which portions of the CD transcript called for initiation of contempt of court proceedings.
In the absence of specific mention of such portions, he added, the contempt notice was against the dictates of natural justice and not capable of being replied.
Explaining further, he said it was impossible for anyone to give an appropriate reply because incidents of contempt of court were described in a very vague manner. The allegations of contempt are general in nature and vague in character.
The counsel argued that issuance of a show-cause notice was an essential prerequisite for framing a charge and under no circumstances the requirement of notice could be done away with. There has to be a meaningful show-cause notice which should be capable of being replied.
He contended that there was nothing in the entire CD or its transcript which could be termed contemptuous.
The CD contained nothing contemptuous against the judiciary, court or the judge in relation to the administration of justice or in relation to the judicial functions being performed by a judge, the counsel said.
The court adjourned the hearing to Nov 22.
Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2014