ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has called a number of television anchors and top executives, including heads, of media organisations and asked them to assist the court during a hearing in the Zainab murder case on Sunday (today).

In a handout, the court asked 12 executives and anchors of various media houses to appear in person at 10am at its Lahore Registry where a bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar would resume the hearing in the rape-and-murder case.

The names of the top executives and anchors summoned by the court are: Hameed Haroon, the chief executive officer of Dawn; Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, the chief editor and publisher of The News and Jang; Rameeza Majid Nizami, the head of the Nawa-i-Waqt and The Nation Group; Fahd Husain, the news director of Express television; I.A. Rehman, a senior columnist and human rights activist; Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami, a senior journalist and editor;

Media executives, TV anchors may be asked to help enforce code of conduct

Amir Mehmood, the proprietor of Dunya Media Group and chairman of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association; Sarmad Ali, the president of All Pakistan Newspapers Society; Zia Shahid of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors; and anchorpersons Kamran Khan, Kashif Abbasi and Hamid Mir.

Although the court notice does not say why the individuals mentioned have been summoned by the Supreme Court, legal observers believe that the invitation has something to do with the claims made recently by an anchor, Dr Shahid Masood, which were denied by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Joint Investigation Team (JIT) set up to investigate matters relating to the Zainab case.

Some analysts are of the view that assistance of the media personalities may be sought over enforcement of the code of conduct that should govern the functioning of electronic media organisations.

Earlier, the hearing of the case was fixed for Monday at the court’s principal seat in Islamabad, but later the venue was moved to Lahore and the date of the hearing to Sunday. The changes were communicated to Punjab’s additional advocate general Asma Hamid, child specialist Dr Naeem, Director General of the Punjab Forensic Science Agency Dr Mohammad Ashraf Tahir, DIG (investigations) Abubakar Khuda Bakhsh, the provincial inspector general of police and DIG prisons.

Dr Masood is also expected to attend the hearing because he was asked to appear before the court in a separate notice issued on Friday. The anchor had claimed in his talk show, titled “Live with Dr Shahid Masood”, that prime suspect in the case Imran Ali was an active member of a child pornography ring being run by certain influential people.

He had claimed that the suspect maintained at least 37 bank accounts, a majority of which were in foreign currency. He had also requested the chief justice, prime minister and army chief to take notice of “these facts”, adding that the child rapist was neither a deranged or insane person, nor a simpleton.

Later the State Bank of Pakistan came up with a clarification that said the suspect had no local or foreign bank account. Subsequently, a Punjab government spokesperson, Malik Ahmed Khan, told the media that Dr Masood did not turn up before the JIT despite repeated requests and alleged that the anchorperson had “concocted a baseless story to derail the investigations”.

NJAC meeting

In a separate development, the National Judicial Automation Committee (NJAC) met in the committee room of the Supreme Court in Islamabad under the chairmanship of Justice Mushir Alam and reviewed the draft service rules formulated by the sub-committee of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) for standardisation of service structure of IT professionals of superior courts.

The LJCP secretary told the meeting that as a first step towards integrating the judiciary in Pakistan, a computer program called “Handshake” had been implemented by the superior judiciary for avoiding issuance of conflicting cause lists.

Through the use of the software the high courts, while giving a date in a case to a lawyer, would be able to know the lawyer’s engagements on that date before the Supreme Court and this would considerably help in solving the problem of case adjournments.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2018