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Dismayed by treatment towards Naqi, journalists tell CJP

Updated November 20, 2018

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A delegation of senior journalists on Monday conveyed concern of the entire journalist community to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar over his remarks about veteran journalist Hussain Naqi during hearing of a case pertaining to Punjab Healthcare Commission’s board of commissioners the other day. — File photo
A delegation of senior journalists on Monday conveyed concern of the entire journalist community to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar over his remarks about veteran journalist Hussain Naqi during hearing of a case pertaining to Punjab Healthcare Commission’s board of commissioners the other day. — File photo

LAHORE: A delegation of senior journalists on Monday conveyed concern of the entire journalist community to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar over his remarks about veteran journalist Hussain Naqi during hearing of a case pertaining to Punjab Healthcare Commission’s board of commissioners the other day.

While the CJP was hearing multiple cases of public interest at the Lahore registry of the Supreme Court, the journalists approached the rostrum of Courtroom 1 and sought permission from the top judge to express their concern.

Former presidents of Lahore Press Club Shahbaz Mian and Arshad Ansari along with Shafique Awan, Ziaullah Niazi, Gohar Butt and Shahzad Butt stated that Mr Naqi was a man of principles and enjoyed great respect amongst the entire country’s journalist community.

Mr Shahbaz said the journalists also had great respect for the courts and the CJP, however, the community was disheartened by the remarks of the top judge about Mr Naqi. He said Mr Naqi was like a teacher to almost three generations of journalists and his life was full of struggle against oppression and dictatorial regimes in the country.

Court acknowledges veteran’s services

At this, Chief Justice Nisar said that the court had no ego and acknowledged the services of Mr Naqi. “Do you want the court to include Mr Naqi in the board of commissioners again?” the chief justice asked the journalists. However, Mr Shahbaz said Mr Naqi had no desire for any position.

Meanwhile, Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights took exception to the treatment meted out to Mr Naqi in the Supreme Court.

In a statement, the JAC said Mr Naqi was widely respected and known for his untiring struggle for democracy, rule of law and justice. His contribution influenced a large number of journalists and human rights defenders in Pakistan and abroad.

The committee noted with concern that while Mr Naqi gracefully showed respect towards the SC and offered an unconditional apology, he was denied a fair response and deserved due respect by the court.

“We expect the honorable CJP to publically show respect to Mr Naqi as this will send out a positive message to the public at large,” the statement added.

CJP Nisar had taken suo motu notice of resignation by PHC chairman retired Justice Amer Raza Khan following alleged humiliation he faced during the first meeting of the board.

Following an order by the chief justice, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid and all members of the board, including Mr Naqi, had appeared before the court on Saturday.

“How dare you disrespect Justice Khan and force him to resign?” the chief justice had angrily asked Mr Naqi.

Mr Naqi, however, rejected the impression and requested the CJP to listen to his point of view. “I am 20 years older to you. Let me explain my position,” said Mr Naqi.

Chief Justice Nisar, however, directed the security to accompany Mr Naqi out of the court. “Why should I leave? I have been elected to the board. I should be given a chance of hearing,” responded Mr Naqi.

At this, the CJP said the board stood dissolved and warned him of being issued a contempt of court notice if he did not apologise for his conduct. Mr Naqi tendered an apology and the security officials accompanied him out of the court.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2018