The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday banned television anchorperson Shahid Masood from hosting his programme for three months and asked him to submit a written apology to the court.

The news anchor offered the court an unconditional apology "from the depths of his heart" for being unable to prove his startling allegations against the convicted rapist and murderer, Imran Ali, of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, however, dismissed the verbal apology, saying: "I will not forgive you without punishment".

"I have been hearing about the 'depths of your heart' for a while now," Justice Nisar remarked.

The CJP then told Masood to "suggest a punishment for himself or the court will ban him for six months". Masood first suggested a ban for one month and then extended it to two months.

The SC announced a ban for three months and ordered the anchorperson to submit a written apology. Justice Nisar warned him that the courts "were not the same as before".

Editorial: Yellow journalism

At the beginning of today's hearing, Justice Nisar lambasted the anchorperson for "insulting [the CJP's] law officer" during his late night programme. "How dare he insult my law officer?" the CJP asked.

"I can get a screen installed to watch the remarks you gave in your characteristic loud voice," Justice Nisar said, adding that the court could charge Masood for contempt of court.

In an earlier hearing this month on March 7, the CJP had refused to accept a verbal apology from News One anchorperson for his startling allegations against the convicted rapist and murderer of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur.

Masood, on March 12, had submitted a written apology in court, saying that he was "sorry if the transmission hurt anyone's sentiments". The apology was again rejected by the CJP who said that the anchorperson "had not apologised" in his answer.

The anchorperson had claimed during a late night show in January that convict Imran Ali was a member of a pornography gang which also includes a Punjab minister. During earlier hearings of the case, Masood had also told the court that the suspect has 37 foreign accounts.

Imran Ali, who was convicted in the rape and murder of Zainab Amin by an Anti-terrorism Court in February, had appealed to the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the verdict that handed him death penalty on four counts, pleading not guilty to the offences. His appeal was turned down by the LHC on Tuesday.

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