Why government is ignoring media attacks on judiciary
By: Ahmad Noorani
ISLAMABAD: While the government remains a silent spectator over the blatant and highly ridiculous content of some TV shows against the top judiciary and the chief justice, a few government-backed news channels are throwing fuel into this raging fire.
What is being said and repeated on these channels is clearly unconstitutional as it ridicules the judiciary but why is the government not acting despite the directives of the Supreme Court is beyond understanding of many analysts.
The government was admonished by the Supreme Court on Monday for airing of these highly indecent contents against the judiciary but the same night in a TV programme the chief justice was actually abused and lambasted without the government taking any corrective action.
It is meaningful that the same show in which the chief justice was abused on Monday night was re-telecast on Tuesday and no action was taken.
Official sources say the responsible in the government are indirectly instigating certain TV channels to conduct such programmes after the PPP leadership gave them a wink and a nod.
The PPP leadership issued a show cause notice to Faisal Raza Abidi. But these PPP leaders who are also in the government have taken no action to stop anti-judiciary campaign on certain channels. The code of conduct for media broadcasters or cable TV operators as given in schedule-A of Pemra Rules 2009 clearly provides that no TV channel can air any content which is defamatory towards the judiciary. Sub-clauses ‘f’ and ‘g’ of clause (1) of this code of conduct which is a mandatory condition of the licence of the broadcasters reads as, “(1) No programme shall be aired which … (f) contains anything amounting to contempt of court; (g) contains aspersions against the Judiciary and integrity of the armed forces of Pakistan.”
However, when the government is itself behind these nefarious attacks on the judiciary how can it control or regulate the media except issuing a “show-cause” notice.
Constitutional provisions clearly provide that no citizen could act against the judiciary in any manner or could not defame or ridicule the judiciary. Preamble of the constitution provides, “Wherein the independence of the judiciary shall be fully secured.” Under article 63(1)(g), any citizen who has been acted against judiciary or bring it into ridicule could not become member of the parliament and if he is member of parliament and will commit any such act will be disqualified from being member of the Majlis-e-Shura (parliament). Relevant part of article 63(1)(g) reads as, “63(1) A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shura, if:-.. (g) he has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction for propagating any opinion, or acting in any manner, prejudicial to … the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary …, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.”
It is very important to mention that most of the responsible news channels are acting lawfully and constitutionally but certain elements are trying to fuel the situation and are intentionally airing extremely defamatory material without any evidence or proofs and trying to drag the person of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry into different disputes.
Legal experts and analysts note that the independent judiciary of the country is showing extreme restraint on such blatant provocations since long but now certain TV channels have come out openly conspiring against the constitution and the constitutional institutions. This situation created by some vested interests in some TV channels is clearly becoming dangerous for the responsible media, observers have noted.