DG Pemra tried to mislead court by submitting incomplete Nehal Hashmi speech: SC

Published July 24, 2017
Records of Hashmi's speech submitted by Pemra differ from the version that aired on TV, say judges.  —APP/File
Records of Hashmi's speech submitted by Pemra differ from the version that aired on TV, say judges. —APP/File

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed severe displeasure with Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Director General Haji Adam and Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf for skipping key parts of Senator Nehal Hashmi's incendiary speech in a transcript submitted as evidence before the court.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, was hearing arguments in a contempt of court case regarding a speech in which Hashmi had, prima facie, threatened the judiciary as well as a SC-appointed joint investigation team (JIT) probing the Sharif family's business dealings abroad.

The SC had subsequently issued Hashmi a show-cause notice for maligning the judiciary on June 1.

During Monday's proceedings, the bench reviewed material presented to the court by the Pemra DG, who had been presented as a witness by the attorney general, the prosecutor in the case.

Adam had submitted CD recordings of Hashmi's speech to the court, along with a transcript of the speech and a list of all the TV channels that aired it the day it was delivered.

Noticing that something was amiss when they read the transcript provided by Adam, the judges asked that the recording of the speech be played during the hearing.

"If TV channels have shown content that is not included in the records [submitted before the court], DG Pemra will not go home — instead, he will go to Adiala Jail," Justice Azmat Saeed warned.

The version of the speech aired by ARY News was then played in court on the order of the judges.

When it became obvious that the transcript provided to them excluded key parts of the speech, the judges concluded that Adam had attempted to mislead the court.

"The material that has been shown [before the court today] does not contain the elements [of Hashmi's speech] that amount to contempt of court," the bench observed after watching the recordings.

Justice Azmat Saeed reminded Adam that as he had appeared before the court as a witness, he had taken an oath to "say nothing but the truth." The judge asked the witness why the transcript of the version of the speech aired on ARY News was not attached to the material submitted before the SC.

"No channel showed the entire speech. Rather, all channels aired different sections of the speech," the AG said in his defence.

Further castigating the DG Pemra, Justice Azmat Saeed told the AG: "We will send your witness to Adiala jail."

Upon these remarks, the AG left the rostrum and refused to argue any further. He was told to return by Justice Ejaz Afzal after Justice Azmat Saeed retracted his words, saying that they were "uncalled for".

Hashmi's lawyer, Hashmat Habib, asked the court to allow him more time to submit another reply before the bench "to clarify the circumstances under which Hashmi delivered his speech".

Reminding the lawyer that he had already submitted a 27-page reply, the bench wondered if it should adjourn hearings till 2030, before eventually allowing him time to submit additional statements and directing him to ensure the presence of his witnesses for the next hearing.

The hearing has been adjourned till August 21.

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