Court orders ARY CEO Salman Iqbal to appear
Malign, slander and run away if court seeks proof
Plea for review of arrest warrants verdict rejected
ISLAMABAD: A local court on Thursday rejected the plea, filed by private TV channel ARY’s owner Salman Iqbal for review of a verdict issued for his arrest in a case of attempts to defame Jang/Geo Group through baseless propaganda, and ordered him to appear in the court on May 30.
The Independent Media Corporation (Pvt) Limited had filed a writ petition against private TV channel’s chief executive Salman Iqbal, Islamabad bureau chief Sabir Shakir, anchor Mubasher Lucman, Lahore bureau chief Arif Hameed Bhatti, a Karachi resident Aqeel Karim Dhedhi, and a Lahore resident Naeem Hanif under Pakistan Penal Code sections 500 and 501, and pleaded for criminal proceedings against them for levelling baseless allegations against Jang/Geo Group and making attempts to defame the media group.
The court had issued non-bailable arrest warrants against private TV channel ARY’s owner Salman Iqbal for not appearing in the court despite issuance of summons and various reminders. The accused challenged the arrest warrants in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). However, the IHC directed him to contact the lower court in this regard.
During the previous hearing, the lower court had reserved the verdict after hearing arguments from both sides, which was issued by Additional District and Sessions Judge (AD&SJ) Islamabad Syed Faizan Haider Gillani the other day. The Independent Media’s counsel, Advocate Amir Abdullah Abbasi, extending arguments, pleaded before the court that the accused were delaying the case intentionally. Private channel’s owner had filed a review petition against his arrest warrants, issued over his non-appearance despite repeated summons.
The counsel said that the court had summoned all accused including the ARY owner Salman Iqbal for the first time on June 6, 2014. On June 19, 2014, Salman Iqbal’s bailable warrants were issued. On July 7, the counsel for the accused sought time to present him in the court. On September 6, 2014, the counsel informed the judge that his client could not appear in the court, but he would he would appear on the next date of hearing. On Sept 10, 2014, a new vakalatnama (power of attorney) was submitted in the court, and the court was informed that Salman Iqbal could not appear because of his illness.
On October 14, 2014, another vakalatnama was submitted; however, the court issued arrest warrants of Salman Iqbal. On November 17, 2014, Salman Iqbal again didn’t appear in the court, and the court issued his bailable arrest warrants. Amir Abdullah Abbasi informed the court that the case proceedings continued in 2015. The court summoned the accused for 12 times but he didn’t appear in the court. The Jang Group has lodged various cases against him. After April 2014, various defamatory programmes were aired against Jang/Geo Group, in which Jang Group was termed American and Indian agent. The accused always use dillydallying tactics and didn’t appear in the court.
The counsel for Jang/Geo Group stated that Salman Iqbal was not only wasting the court time through dillydallying but also creating hindrances in delivery of justice. He leaded with the court to throw out Salman Iqbal’s review petition and continue the court proceedings.
Counsel for Jang Group said that the accused level so many allegations. If there was any truth in them, they should present proofs in the court so that the issue could be resolved once and for all. But, it is really regrettable that they didn’t even appear in the court, added the counsel.