Journalist seeks modification of order in contempt case

Published January 2, 2022
This image shows journalist Ansar Abbasi. — Screenshot courtesy: DawnNewsTv
This image shows journalist Ansar Abbasi. — Screenshot courtesy: DawnNewsTv

ISLAMABAD: Senior journalist Ansar Abbasi filed an application before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Saturday seeking the modification of an order passed in connection with the contempt of court proceedings over an affidavit of former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Mohammad Shamim.

Mr Abbasi pointed out that the order passed by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah stated: “They (Ansar Abbasi and Aamir Ghouri) were explicitly asked whether they would report and publish the copy of a leaded document in the form of an affidavit if it contained untrue facts intended to influence the outcome of pending judicial proceeding. They answered that they would do so if it was in the public interest because their role was of a mere ‘messenger’.”

In his application, Mr Abbasi stated that “the applicant could not have made and never made the above statement before the honourable court.”

Asks IHC to expunge some words inserted through ‘clerical error’

“The applicant thus most humbly seeks the indulgence of this honourable court to order that the words reproduced in the application be expunged from its order as they appear to have been inserted through some clerical error perhaps because of applicant’s poor communication skills,” the journalist stated.

In the affidavit — dated Nov 10, 2021 — on which Mr Abbasi’s report was based, Mr Shamim stated that former chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar during his visit to Gilgit-Baltistan made a call to an IHC judge and asked him to ensure that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and his daughter should not be released on bail before the July 25, 2018 general elections. The alleged affidavit was published as part of an investigative report by The News International.

In his application, Mr Abbasi said his position was clear from the outset of the contempt proceedings that he merely reported the existence of the affidavit of a person, someone who was far from ordinary and had held the highest judicial position in Gilgit-Baltistan. He had “absolutely no knowledge that the fact sworn in the affidavit were false or true”, Mr Abbasi said.

He added that he only intended to report the existence of an affidavit, not about the veracity of the facts narrated in it.

The application stated that Mr Abbasi verified from Rana Shamim the contents of his affidavit besides getting the viewpoint of former CJP Nisar.

Mr Abbasi further contended that the story was done in good faith without any malice. For the same reason, reasonable care was taken, such as not publishing the name of the judge or even the name of the high court.

Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2022

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