The Supreme Court on Monday once again rejected senior anchorperson Dr Shahid Masood's reply in court with regards to the findings of an inquiry committee which had termed his startling claims about the convicted rapist and murderer of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur to be false and baseless.
"We are sorry if our transmission hurt anyone's sentiments," the fresh reply submitted in court by Dr Masood's lawyer said.
The News One anchor had claimed during a late night show in January that convict Imran Ali was a member of a pornography gang that also includes a Punjab minister. During earlier hearings of the case, he had also told the court that the suspect has 37 foreign accounts.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, who had taken a suo motu notice of the TV programme, last week refused to accept a verbal apology from Dr Masood after the inquiry committee in its report had found the anchor's allegations to be untrue.
In today's hearing, the lawyer told the court that the earlier reply, submitted in court on Saturday, had a printing mistake and was missing a paragraph, which is why a new reply was submitted in court today.
"Masood has not apologised in the reply," Justice Nisar commented after reviewing the new paragraph added to the reply.
"We will take action [against him] according to the law," the chief justice said, adding that the defence lawyer should read the clauses of the law pertaining to lying in court and terrorism.
"How long can the court get Pemra to shut down the transmission of a TV channel for?" the chief justice inquired during the hearing.
The court appointed Advocate Faisal Siddiqui as the judicial assistant on the case.
The chief justice, while adjourning the case until March 20, also pointed out that the investigation of the Zainab murder case was stalled by a day because of the statements Masood had made regarding the child's rapist and murderer.
In his reply submitted to court on Saturday, Masood had thanked the SC for taking "prompt action" against his programme that was broadcast on January 24. He had added that since Zainab's murder was a highly sensitive issue, "I, not only being an anchor and journalist but also a father, was highly concerned and emotionally upset."
Explaining how he reached his conclusions about the murder convict, the anchorperson had said that the manner in which Zainab was raped and murdered and the torture marks that were observed on the child's body were "identical" to incidents of violent child pornography, which he claimed are broadcast on the "dark web".
Dr Masood had said he had come across such recordings through his own sources in which children are sexually assaulted and murdered and "the same is viewed live by many people across the world and the same involves [a] hefty amount of money".
According to the anchorperson, he had formed the opinion that convict Imran Ali was part of an international child pornography racket after he received information about certain bank accounts of the accused and his alleged connections with influential personalities.
"That with all this sensitivity and emotional distress I conducted the show on the fateful evening [of January 24]", which culminated into the chief justice taking a notice of the programme, Dr Masood said.
"I... assure this august court that I shall observe due diligence and care before making any such statement [in the future]," he had concluded, stopping short of formally apologising for his allegations.