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Petition seeking ban on media

October 09, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Oct 8: In an unprecedented move, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday (today) will take up a petition seeking to restrain the media from airing or publishing news items against the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) and the superior judiciary.

The petitioner, Muhammad Nadeem, who is an advocate by profession, fears that after an verbal assault on CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry by property tycoon Malik Riaz a new attack to malign the superior judiciary is being planned. The petition is being filed through senior lawyer, Muhammad Akram Sheikh.

The petition takes the stance that rumours are going around that a new attack against the chief justice might take place through another press conference.

It may be kept in mind that the chief justice was first targeted by Malik Riaz Hussain at a press conference on June 12, 2012.

The petition alludes to ‘senior journalists’ who are highlighting the impending conspiracy in their talk shows and articles.

The petitioner cited information secretary, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chairman, police chiefs of the four provinces and Islamabad as respondents.

According to the petition, the property tycoon, instead of filing a proper reference against the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, indulged in a malicious rumour mongering campaign. Later he addressed a press conference and levelled allegations against the chief justice’s son.

It was alleged that the real estate developer deliberately added drama to the press conference by waving a copy of the Holy Quran, which tens of millions of viewers across the country saw.

According to the petition the broadcast was in violation of Section 20 of Pemra Ordinance 2002. The authority did nothing to stop the coverage or its repeat transmissions.

The dichotomy, according to the petition, being that the complainant, Malik Riaz, is reluctant to appear and record his statement in front of the commission set up by the Supreme Court to look into the veracity of the complaints against the CJP’s son, Arsalan Chaudhry.

The petition questions why the tycoon deliberately opted for the path of accountability through media? When he could have easily filed a reference in the Supreme Judicial Council, which would have been constitutionally the right thing to do.

The petitioner requested the court to direct the Pemra chairman to immediately issue written directions to all national TV channels and newspapers not to air or publish any material which may contain defamatory material or statements against any member of the superior judiciary.

It also requested the court to direct Pemra to suspend the license of those channels showing defamatory interviews or press conferences against the judiciary and to direct the police to register cases under section 499 of Pakistan Penal Code.