SC warning over false news report
By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD: In what is seen by many here as a warning to a federal minister, the Supreme Court demanded on Tuesday credible proof, within three days, of reported meeting between Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif or face “strict action”.
“Any person who has credible evidence in this regard can file the same, within three days, before the registrar of the Supreme Court or contradict the statement so made, failing which strict action will be initiated against him, no matter whosoever he may be and howsoever high he may be placed,” says a strongly-worded statement issued by the Supreme Court.
A report about the alleged midnight meeting between the chief justice and the Punjab chief minister in a Lahore rest house appeared in a local English daily, but it was retracted by the newspaper the following day. The paper also expressed regrets for carrying an unverified news item.
Despite this retraction, the SC statement deplored, certain elements continued to harp on the false report with malicious motives. Certain vested interests were deliberately spreading false and baseless reports, it said and reiterated that no such meeting had taken place.
The report, said the court, was totally false and baseless and cast aspersions on the apex court, distorting its image and spoiling its good reputation, which might have serious repercussions for those who issued such statements.
Legal experts are of the view that the basis of the SC statement is a demand of Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira that the Supreme Court should take suo motu notice of the news report.
Although the minister assured the media that the government believed in strengthening democratic institutions and smooth and independent functioning of the judiciary, he said the meeting (between the chief justice and the chief minister) was very meaningful in the present situation, especially when a detailed judgment of the Supreme Court on the National Reconciliation Ordinance issue was still pending.
The issue also echoed in the National Assembly when a PML-N parliamentarian denied that any such meeting had taken place and called upon the media to behave responsibly.