ISLAMABAD, June 12: The Supreme Court on Tuesday summoned a journalist and warned him for publishing a news item suggesting initiation of references by the government against four senior judges who were part of the 13-member larger bench hearing the petition of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, and warned him to be careful in future.

In its order, the Supreme Court said: “Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, editor special reporting, of the daily ‘Jang’ and ‘The News’, has entered appearance on our call, in connection with the news items appearing in the Rawalpindi edition of the daily ‘Jang’ and daily ‘The News’ of June 11, 2007, regarding some references being made against four senior judges of this court who, presumably also happen to be members of this bench.”

The news item, the order said, appeared to be open to further serious exception because it had been published, more than boldly, on the front pages of the two newspapers on the day when the bench was expected to announce its decision on the maintainability of petitions filed in this court questioning the presidential reference against the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

Certain insinuations had been made in the said news items pointing towards some alleged misconduct committed by the four unnamed senior judges of the court, the order said. The reporter frankly … conceded that he had made no effort to verify the veracity of the allegations levelled in the news items before publishing the same nor did he have any proof in support of the contents.

He tendered an unconditional verbal apology in the open court and also placed on record his written statement to the above noted effect, the order said.

“In view of this, we do not consider it necessary to proceed … any further except warning him to be careful in future, the order said.

“On our call, Muhammad Afzal Butt, President Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) also entered appearance for assistance.

“The newspapers which had published the news items in question, shall publish the said apology and this order, prominently, on their front pages … Muhammad Saleh Zaafir undertakes to do the same and has been ordered accordingly,” the order said.

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