A scoop which landed a newspaper in trouble
By Usman Manzoor
ISLAMABAD: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has taken a serious note of a shocking incident in which the order of the court regarding a petition of the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) president was published a day before the first hearing of the petition and subsequently the order passed by the court was exactly the same as already published.
The court has issued contempt notices to ZTBAL President Chaudhry Zaka Ashraf and the editor of an Urdu newspaper for disrespecting the authority of the court. According to details, the appointment of Zaka Ashraf as the ZTBL president was challenged in the LHC by one Iqbal Khattak on the grounds of qualification and experience, and on August 27, 2010 a single bench of LHC Rawalpindi Bench declared Zaka’s appointment illegal. The ZTBL president filed appal in the division bench on 2nd of September 2010 and got the order of the single bench suspended.
Interestingly, the September 2 order was published in an Urdu newspaper in Multan on September 1 when the appeal was not even filed in the court. The lawyer of Iqbal Khattak also produced the cutting of the newspaper before the court after it had suspended the single bench’s order.
Such scandalising of the superior court and creating a wrong impression about conduct of the judges has raised many eyebrows and the court has issued notices to the ZTBL president and the editor of the newspaper in a contempt of court application filed under Article 204 by Iqbal Khattak.
The contempt of court petition file in LHC says the ZTBL president got published the said news item with malafide intention and ulterior motives to disrespect and disrepute the authority of this honourable court to achieve ulterior motive whereas there was no order on September 1,2010.
Ashter Ausaf, the attorney of Zaka Ashraf, while talking to The News said the news item was given to the newspaper by the opponents of the ZTBL president to get the case twisted. He said if the whole scenario was examined thoroughly, the only person to get benefit from the news item was the opponent of Zaka Ashraf, not Zaka Ashraf himself. “Strangely, the news item was published in Multan edition of the newspaper while its cutting was produced before the court which could not be received so early,” Ashter Ausaf said, adding: “It is indeed a serious matter and the opponents of Zaka Ashraf have tried to give a twist to the case and malign him”.
Iqbal Khattak, the petitioner who challenged the ZTBL president’s appoint in LHC, when contacted, said on September 1 that he started receiving telephone calls from various people that Zaka Ashraf had been reinstated as mentioned in the news item. Â“It was of concern for me as the appeal was fixed for September 2 and how an order can be published a day before when the court even did not start hearing,” Iqbal said, adding: “I asked people to send me a copy of the newspaper by bus cargo service and produced it in the court”. He said he had filed a contempt of court petition and everything would be cleared before the court.
Source: The News