The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday announced that a two-judge bench will hear the suo motu contempt of court case against former Senator Faisal Raza Abidi on October 10.
The court had previously taken suo motu notice of Abidi's alleged anti-judiciary remarks during a programme on Channel 5.
A new two-judge bench headed by Justice Azmat Saeed will hear the case after the three-member SC bench initially formed to hear the case was dissolved after Abidi gave an application in court asking that the bench hearing his case not include any judges who may have been signatories to a Provisional Constitution Order (PCO).
Earlier, on April 17, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) had also imposed a fine of Rs1 million on Channel 5 and also placed a three-month ban on its programme “News @ 8” during which the remarks were reportedly aired.
According to a statement issued by Pemra at the time, the authority had issued a show cause notice to Channel 5 on April 13 asking it to submit a reply and appear before it within three days time.
After hearing the channel’s explanation, the regulatory authority had slapped a three-month ban on the programme and further informed the channel administration that in case of any further violation their licence would be cancelled.
FIA, police book Abidi for remarks made in web interview
In connection to a different interview — given in programme titled Subah Subah Naya Pakistan aired by web channel Naya Pakistan on July 2 — Abidi was booked by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the capital police on September 21 for “defaming the Supreme Court and judges”.
The FIA and police will conduct separate investigations, police officials said. The former senator and others were booked under several charges, including the Anti-Terrorism Act.
According to the FIA, during the course of his appearance on the show, the accused, with criminal intent and ulterior motives and without any lawful justification, used sarcastic, derogatory, disrespectful and defamatory language against the chief justice etc. which it says was tantamount to creating a sense of fear, panic and insecurity among the government, general public and society.
The case registered against Abidi said the accused is prima facie guilty of offences punishable under sections 10(a), 11 and 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act, 2016 read with Sections 109 and 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Another case was registered at the Secretariat police station under Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) sections 228, 500, 505(ii) and 34 along with the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) in response to a complaint lodged by SC Public Relations Officer Shahid Hussain Kamboyo.
The FIR said the video went viral on social media and that the accused could be clearly seen in the video.
It said that the former senator was highly abusive, contemptuous, used threatening language and levelled allegations against government institutions which have been created via the Constitution and also levelled accusations against individuals holding the highest constitutional posts.
The FIR said that via his speech, Abidi created panic, scared the public and intimidated constitutional functionaries in order to refrain them from discharging their constitutional obligations.
It said the language and words used by Abidi come under the ATA 1997, which are punishable under the ATA and other provisions of the PPC, it said.
On October 1, an anti-terrorism court accepted Abidi's request for interim bail in the case.