Jang/Geo petition: Rules don’t allow slander: CJ
By Sohail Khan
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed PPP Parliamentarian Uzma Bukhari to file her written reply before the court in response to allegations she had leveled against Jang Group and Geo TV.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing a petition filed by Jang Group and Geo TV against the malicious campaign launched by the PPP parliamentarians and its activists against the Jang group publications, Geo TV network, their owners and some of the senior journalists.
Appearing on notice, Uzma Bukhari of PPP submitted that whatever was said was on the floor of the house and hence, parliamentarians could not be summoned before the court.
The chief justice however directed her to submit before the court a written reply and adjourned the hearing for six weeks. The CJ also observed that rules of business did not mean a licence to slander.
Additional Attorney General K K Agha submitted before the court that the petitions were not maintainable. The court also directed him to file his written reply. The International Media Corporation (Pvt) Limited had filed a constitutional petition through its lawyer Muhammad Akram Sheikh in the Supreme Court, making the Federation of Pakistan as respondent.
It was contended that the petitioner is the largest print and electronic media group in Pakistan. It has served this nation in its stressful hours and crisis and has kept the torch of hope and optimism for a strong, stable and viable Pakistan always burning, though, unfortunately the petitioner in discharge of its duties with regard to running of a good government and formulation of pro-Pakistan policies has incurred untold wrath and displeasure of people in power and is not being treated as ‘the Press’ but as an adversary. It is also being meted out the treatment of adversaries.
It was prayed in the petition that PPP Punjab President and PPP parliamentary leader in the Punjab Assembly and Senior Minister in Punjab Raja Riaz lashed out at the Jang Group, Geo TV and senior journalists attached to the media house on the floor of the provincial assembly on 19 Oct 2010 and termed Kamran Khan, Hamid Mir and Ansar Abbasi Indian agents.
The petition contended that the very next day on 20 Oct, 2010, another PPP MPA Ms Uzma Bukhari leveled serious allegations against the Jang Group and Geo TV claiming that the famous Indian business group namely Bajaj Group had shares in the Geo TV network. She also leveled serious allegations of corruption against senior anchorperson of Geo TV Hamid Mir.
The petition had prayed that as an interlocutory relief, the court might kindly probe into the statements/allegations against the three senior-most journalists, Kamran Khan, Hamid Mir and Ansar Abbasi, who are the source of strength for the whole country and general public and if the same (statements/allegations) are found to be incorrect, the court might take appropriate actions against the persons in authority exercising powers as a trust for the people of Pakistan.
The petition had also prayed that if the said allegations are found to be without any basis, the court may kindly take action against Raja Riaz and Ms Uzma Bukhari for misleading the whole nation and the people of Pakistan who read and rely upon the news and views given by the said journalists through the Jang Group and Geo TV Network.
The petition further maintained that court may further probe into the allegations that an Indian Group, Bajaj Group, holds shares in Geo TV Network, which is the most popular TV network of Pakistan and also that the Jang/Geo group is an Indian agent.
“If the same is found to be correct, the court may kindly take action against the Geo TV Network,” adding that if the allegations are baseless aimed to mislead and affect the opinion of the people of Pakistan, the court may take action against Ms Uzma Bukhari and others who, for their own ulterior motives, leveled such allegations without any proof.
It had further prayed that necessary legal action may immediately be taken to restrain all federal and provincial government functionaries from making any allegations against the petitioner and its journalists without substantiating it with evidence.
Source: The News