Home Latest News Supreme Court Issues Show-Cause to 34 TV Channels for Airing ‘Contemptuous’ Press Conferences

Supreme Court Issues Show-Cause to 34 TV Channels for Airing ‘Contemptuous’ Press Conferences

Notices to be served through PEMRA and seek explanations from channels as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them

by Staff Report
Supreme Court of Pakistan

File photo. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued show cause notices to 34 television channels, directing them to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for broadcasting the remarks of two lawmakers who criticized the judiciary.

“Reporting, broadcasting and telecast of the press conference also constitute contempt and, therefore, show cause notices be issued to all the televisions channels which will be served through the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA),” read the order issued by a three-member bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa that was hearing the contempt case initiated against Senator Faisal Vawda and MNA Mustafa Kamal.

Both lawmakers had criticized the judiciary in separate press conferences, with the apex court noting in its first hearing that anyone who broadcasts, rebroadcasts or publishes material constituting contempt might also be guilty of the offense.

During arguments on Wednesday, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan contended that it was not a question of exercising judicial restraint in terms of the television channels since they should be mindful of the duty cast upon them under the constitutional command not to provide their platform to vent contemptuous assertions against the judiciary.

Appearing before the court alongside his lawyer, Farogh Nasim, MQMP’s Kamal tendered an unconditional apology, but maintained he had not committed contempt as he only sought to bring attention to pending Riba cases. As such, his counsel requested the Supreme Court to discharge the notice against his client. While the SC order noted that Kamal had thrown himself at the mercy of the court and sought forgiveness, it denied the same to him, with the CJP questioning how he could tender an apology when he did not feel he had committed any wrong. The CJP also observed that Kamal could hold a press conference to express repentance.

Vawda’s lawyer Moiz Ahmed, meanwhile, sought additional time to reflect upon the statement he filed before the court, saying he might file a fresh reply if so instructed by his client. Speaking with media after the hearing, Vawda maintained he would not apologize, but said he could consider it at a “later” stage.

The bench also took exception to PEMRA barring television channels from reporting court proceedings, with the CJP remarking that the regulator should not create such hurdles.

The case was then adjourned until June 28, when the contempt proceedings would resume.

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