Supreme Court brings journalists in ‘contempt net’
By: Hasnaat malik
ISLAMABAD: Contempt of court cases are on the rise in 2012 as the Supreme Court on Tuesday indicted the chief editor of an English magazine for scandalising and disrespecting the judiciary by publishing a news report about an email allegedly written by the SC registrar to seek tax returns and verification of receipts from British companies, which had provided services to Dr Arsalan Iftikhar. A two-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, framed charges against two journalists – Mohsin Beg and Samar Rao, production editor of the magazine – for publication of false news regarding the Supreme Court Registrar Dr Faqir Hussain. The court observed that both accused had deliberately refused to publish the clarification of the false news and thus defamed the judiciary.
Both journalists refused to accept the veracity of the charge sheet against them. Earlier, harsh words were exchanged between members of the bench and the journalists’ counsel, Dr Abdul Basit, when he alleged the Supreme Court Human Rights Cell was being run only to take up cases against Bahria Town.
The court, rejecting his allegations, said they had accepted Malik Riaz’s review petition against its August 30 judgement. Dr Basit requested the bench to adjourn the case until the decision of his intra-court appeal against its previous order, as there were shortcomings in its decision to frame charges against his clients. He stated that Article 10-A provided for fair trial to his clients.
The court, however, turned down his contentions and observed proceedings could not be stopped after filing of an intra-court appeal. The bench said it would appoint a prosecutor in this case later.
Dr Basit said as per Supreme Court rules, the attorney general should be prosecutor in contempt of court cases. He again pleaded the bench to give a month in this case, but the court declined his plea and adjourned the hearing until October 3.