SC warns media over Faisal Vawda, Mustafa Kamal’s ‘contemptuous’ pressers

Published May 19, 2024
This photo combo shows MQM-P’s Mustafa Kamal (L) and independent Senator Faisal Vawda (R) addressing separate press conferences on May 16 and May 15, respectively. — File photos
This photo combo shows MQM-P’s Mustafa Kamal (L) and independent Senator Faisal Vawda (R) addressing separate press conferences on May 16 and May 15, respectively. — File photos

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Saturday restrained TV channels and other media outlets from broadcasting, rebroadcasting or publishing the “contemptuous” pressers of lawmakers Faisal Vawda and Syed Mustafa Kamal, warning that failing to do so would attract contempt proceedings against them.

A three-page order issued by the SC in a contempt case against Senator Vawda and MNA Kamal for their recent outburst against judges explained that all those who broadcast, rebroadcast or publish material constituting contempt may also be committing contempt of court. Media outlets should desist from doing so, failing which they may also be proceeded against, for contempt of court, the SC order stated.

A three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, had on Friday issued a show-cause notice to the two parliamentarians under Article 204, read with Contempt of the Court Ordinance, 2003. It was noted that apparently several malicious allegations against the judiciary and judges were levelled and even the alleged contemnors spoke about matters which were sub judice before courts, including the apex court.

In its order, the SC stated Senator Vawda held a presser on May 15 at the National Press Club, which was broadcast live on a number of TV channels.

The presser was also streamed on the internet and social media forums and extracts from his talk were published in different newspapers, the bench observed. Next day at the very same venue, MNA Kamal addressed a similar news conference, which was also broadcast live by a number of TV channels.

Three-page order refers to Article 204 along with right to freedom of expression

The order explained that Article 19 of the Constitution grants to every citizen the right to freedom of speech and expression, but places restrictions, amongst others, with regard to contempt of court.

It added that Article 204 defines contempt of court and empowers the apex court to punish any person who: ‘(a) abuses, interferes with or obstructs the process of the court in any way or disobeys any order of the court; (b) scandalises the court or otherwise does anything which tends to bring the court or a judge of the court into hatred, ridicule or contempt; (c) does anything which tends to prejudice the determination of a matter pending before the court; or (d) does any other thing which, by law, constitutes contempt of the court’. Also, contempt of court is further attended to by the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003.

“Prima facie what was said by Senator Vawda appeared to be contempt of court, therefore, we are constrained to issue show-cause notice to Senator Vawda and [MNA] Kamal, but granted an opportunity to [them to] submit explanation/reply within two weeks of the receipt of the show-cause notice.”

Both were directed to be in attendance before the SC at the next hearing.

The bench directed the court office to send the notice to Senator Vawda at his residential address and at the Senate secretariat. Likewise, the SC ordered that the notice be sent to MNA Kamal at his residential address, as well as at the National Assembly secretariat.

Besides, a notice was also issued to the Attorney General for Pakistan, under Rule 7(2) of Order XXVII of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980.

On the other hand, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) was directed to submit recording of both pressers together with their complete transcripts, including that of the question and answer session.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2024

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