ISLAMABAD: Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday gave two days to senior journalist and anchor Matiullah Jan to decide whether he would tender an apology or contest the contempt of court proceedings against him.

The judge was hearing a case against an episode of the talk show ‘Apna Apna Gareban’ — hosted by Mr Jan on Feb 5 on Waqt Television — which examined allegations that lawyers had encroached upon a football ground in Islamabad’s F-8 sector.

Chief Executive Officer of Waqt TV Rameeza Majeed Nizami, anchorperson Jan and the production team of the programme appeared before the court.

On the court’s directive, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority officials played a recording of the programme in the courtroom.

The programme had aired a sound bite of a lawyer from four years ago where he claimed that Justice Siddiqui had allowed lawyers to construct chambers on the football ground.

Though the anchorperson in the same video clip rebutted the lawyer’s claim, saying that Justice Siddiqui never allowed such construction, the judge observed that the journalist had unnecessarily dragged his name in the controversy.

Being the administrative judge of the sessions court of Islamabad, Justice Siddiqui had ordered an inquiry of a senior civil judge for issuing a stay order in favour of lawyers involved in the football ground case.

He declared the stay order was unlawful and observed the anchorperson had used derogatory language for Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar. “It is only the appellate court which can decide if the order is lawful or otherwise,” the judge remarked.

The court observed that an intentional effort was made in the programme to malign the judiciary, disgrace the office of the honourable CJP and the court.

CEO Nizami and the producer’s counsel pleaded they wanted to tender an unconditional apology to the court. However, Mr Jan said he needed some time to consult his lawyer to decide if he wanted to contest the case or issue an apology.

The IHC bench then granted him time in this regard.

The court also exempted Ms Nizami’s appearance for the next hearing and adjourned the case till Feb 19.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2018

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