Court clears news director of sedition charges

Published October 18, 2023
A file photo of ARY News Director Ammad Yousaf.
A file photo of ARY News Director Ammad Yousaf.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed an FIR against ARY News Director Ammad Yousaf, asserting that sedition charges against the media person not only threatened the broadcaster but also had a chilling effect on media.

Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, who auth­ored the judgement, highlighted the government’s practice of indulging its citizens in malicious and frivolous prosecution on weak grounds of harbouring anti-state sentiments.

Such misuse of authority also created a sense of fear and insecurity in society, which led to hatred against state institutions, he said.

Justice Mandokhail was a member of the three-judge bench, led by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, that heard Ammad Yousaf’s appeal against the Islamabad High Court’s decision on Feb 14, 2023.

Rebukes govt over politically motivated FIRs

Mr Yousaf had been arrested due to an ARY News broadcast on Aug 8, 2022, in which PTI leader Shahbaz Gill — former prime minister’s chief of staff at the time — made certain comments that were perceived as opposing the armed forces, leading to criminal allegations.

The judge explained that every citizen had a right to political and social justice, freedom of speech and thought, subject to reasonable restrictions imposed by law.

To protect and promote such rights, the state must exercise its power and authority in accordance with the Constitution, he said, adding that the print and electronic media were the means of receiving and providing information to and from the people.

He expressed concerns over politically motivated FIRs against politicians, media persons, human rights activists, and even against their family members.

In such a hostile atmosphere, the media could not perform its functions freely; instead, the freedom of speech, expression and access to information of the citizens, as guaranteed by the Constitution, were undermined and led to mistrust in the institutions, he said.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2023

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