Jang-Geo Group moves SC against govt steps -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Jang-Geo Group moves SC against govt steps

ISLAMABAD: The International Media Corporation (Pvt) Limited in a petition filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan has sought relief 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.

The International Media Corporation (Pvt) Limited filed a constitutional petition through its lawyer Muhammad Akram Sheikh in the Supreme Court of Pakistan here on Wednesday, making the Federation of Pakistan its respondents.

It has been submitted, “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’s 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 has been 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 levelled 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 levelled serious allegations of corruption against senior anchorperson of Geo TV Hamid Mir.

The petition 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 are found to be incorrect, the court might take appropriate actions against the persons in authority exercising its powers as a trust for the people of Pakistan.

The petition also prayed, “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 maintains 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. It is further prayed 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, levelled such allegations without any proof.

The petition prays 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.

The petition says that the PPP and its parliamentarians may be directed to restrain all its office bearers, members of its federal and provincial legislators from making any allegations against the petitioner and its journalists without substantiating it with evidence.

The petition requested the court to direct the Pemra to restrain all its licensed broadcasters/news channels from making any allegations against the petitioner and its journalists without substantiating it with evidence.

The petition prayed to the court to direct the respondent to forthwith restore uninterrupted broadcast of the Geo News channel along with all other news channels and not to change the position of Geo News and other channels of the Geo TV Network interrupting their broadcast.

The petition also made a request to the court that the respondent might be directed to set up a mechanism for the uninterrupted broadcast of channels of Geo TV Network.

It has also been prayed that the respondent might be directed not to pressurise/ threaten the licensed cable operators to illegally suspend/block the broadcast of electronic media/TV channels.

The petition further requests the court to direct the respondent not to influence/threaten/pressurise the licensed cable operators to change channel positions of the Geo TV Network on a daily basis.

Following is the text of the Petition;

1. 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’s policies has incurred untold wrath and displeasure of people in power and is not being treated as “the Press” but as adversary. It is also being meted out the treatment of adversaries.

2. That GEO TV NETWORK is an affiliate of leading media group of Pakistan namely “JANG Group”, inter alia, ‘Geo News Channel’ Geo Entertainment Channel, Geo Super (Sports Channel), Aag TV and publishing famous Urdu and English newspapers namely “JANG” and “The News”, having wide circulation in the country, being a major source of access to information for the people of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the outside world.

3. That on 19.10.2010, a statement of a member of Punjab Assembly and Senior Minister of Punjab namely Mr. Raja Riaz, belonging to Pakistan Peoples Party, was widely published in the print and electronic media wherein he alleged that one senior journalist of the said JANG Group, Mr. Kamran Khan, who is Anchor of Geo News Channel’s program ‘Aj Kamran Khan kay Sath’, is Indian Agent. He also leveled allegations against Ansar Abbasi, Editor (Investigation) The News. The above statement was made by him on 18.10.2010

4. That on 19.10.2010 Mr. Raja Riaz repeated these allegations and also called the media group “Indian agent”, which were published in newspapers on 20.10.2010 and on the same day, statement of another member of Punjab Assembly, Ms. Uzma Bukhari, was also widely circulated in the print and electronic media wherein she alleged that a famous Indian group of companies, Bajaj Group, holds shares in Geo TV Network. She also leveled allegations of corruption against above journalists and another senior journalist of Jang Group namely, Mr. Hamid Mir who is renowned anchor person of Geo News program Capital Talk.

5. That on 20.10.2010, Ms. Uzma Bokhari repeated her allegations against the said journalist and Jang/ Geo Group in her statement. It is pertinent to mention here that on 20.10.2010, Mr. Rana Sana-ul-Allah, provincial law minister, condemned the above statements and stated that the said journalists are patriotic.

6. That it is respectfully submitted that above mentioned three journalists are most popular and senior journalists of the country hence are a source of information for the whole Nation whose views and news are relied upon by sovereign people of Pakistan. Newspapers and TV channels of Jang/ Geo group are the most popular source of Information for the People of Pakistan.

7. That it is respectfully submitted that, as a part of their professional duties, every journalist, in the national and public interest, has to report/analyze upon various events that take place in the country for the information of people of Pakistan hence journalists are the medium and source for people of Pakistan towards their right to information. As part of their core profession, above-mentioned three journalists too have to report upon the various acts and omissions of different ministers and other functionaries of the government of the day and also to report statements of various opposition political leaders and prominent Pakistanis about the shortcomings in the performance of government of the day.

This is a source of information for the people of Pakistan to keep themselves informed and to form their opinions and views as to how the government of the day is trying to address the problems being faced by the ordinary citizens of the country.

An unfortunate consequence of this is that whenever the performance of a government falls below the level that is acceptable to general public, such governments increasingly become intolerant of criticism in general and obviously against any journalist/media group. It is therefore submitted that above mentioned allegations leveled against said senior journalists and the media group, who have been reporting performance and corrupt practices of various organs of government, can be seen in above mentioned context to mislead and affect the opinions and views of general public about the government’s performance.

8. That statement of Mr. Raja Riaz, Party leader of PPP in Punjab Assembly and Senior Minister Punjab, in Punjab Assembly declaring Kamran Khan an Indian Agent and repeating the same allegation for three days. Uzma Bokhari, PPP MPA Punjab Assembly alleged on the assembly floor that Indian Bajaj Group is shareholder of Geo TV. The Petitioners are at complete loss as to how to deal with and address such ferocious and grave allegations against the petitioner without any shred of evidence. She also leveled allegation of corruption against Ansar Abbasi and Hamid Mir.

9. That Cable Operators held a press conference on 30th October at Karachi Press Club which was telecasted live by nearly all TV channels including Samaa, NewsOne, Express, ARY, DawnNews, Duniya, Aaj, Waqt, PTV, CNBC and Metro. Cable operators leveled serious allegations against Jang Group and Geo including Tax Evasion, Fraud with Bank and Blackmailing. Text of Press conference, which they distributed to journalists and also the transcript of it as aired by Express are also attached.

For ready reference a clipping of Daily ‘Jang’ is also attached wherein position of Jang Group relating to Tax and Bank matters is explained. Both issues relating to tax and bank loan are pending in Sindh High Court with stay orders in petitioners favour the Petitioners are in possession of the Press conference telecast on all above stated TV channels. Clipping of various newspapers are also being attached separately.

10. That as a consequence of orders passed by this August Court, M/s World Call and PEMRA Convened a meeting of Cable Operators and as lead them to compromise with the object of closing pending proceedings in the Supreme Courts.

The minutes of such meeting were not correctly recorded which necessitated writing of a letter on behalf of the petitioner on the 28th October but a copy of the letter delivered to PEMRA on 1st November objecting on minutes of the meeting sent by PEMRA is also enclosed.

11. That PPP has announced boycott of Jang Group and in some instances Geo and Jang are not invited in Government’s official functions. Clipping of newspapers in this regard are being attached separately.

12. That fresh wall chalking was done against Jang Group and Mir Shakil ur Rehman on 17th October, 2010. Photographs of these wall chalking are being attached separately.

13. That cable operators continued to change positions of Geo channels, a report is being also submitted separately.

14. That the Petitioners crave the leave of this Hon’ble Court to raise further grounds at the time of hearing.

15. That unless the instant application is granted, the Petitioners’ fundamental right would be seriously prejudiced hence would suffer irreparable loss.
PRAYER
i. That it is therefore respectfully prayed that as an interlocutory relief this Hon’ble Court may kindly probe into the statements/allegations against three senior most journalists who are source of strength for the whole country and general public, and if the same are found to be incorrect, this Hon’ble Court may kindly and graciously be pleased to take appropriate actions against named persons in authority and exercising power as a trust for the people of Pakistan.

ii. It is further prayed that if the said allegations are found to be without any basis, this Hon’ble Court may kindly take action against Mr. 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 JANG Group and Geo TV Network.

iii. That this Hon’ble Court may further probe into the allegation 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 Indian Agent. If the same is found to be correct, this Hon’ble Court may kindly take action against the Geo TV Network. It is further prayed that if the allegations are baseless aimed to mislead and affect the opinion of people of Pakistan, this Hon’ble Court may take action against Ms. Uzma Bukhari and others who, for their own ulterior motives, levelled such allegation without any proof.

iv. 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 journalist without substantiating it with evidence.

v. Pakistan People’s Party including PPP Parliamentarian may be directed to be restrained all its office bearers, members of its federal and provincial legislator and members from making any allegations against the petitioner and its journalist without substantiating it with evidence.

vi. Direct PEMRA to restrain all its licensed broad castors/ news channels from making any allegations against the petitioner and its journalist without substantiating it with evidence.

vii. Direct Respondents to forthwith restore uninterrupted broadcast of GEO News Channels along with all other news channels and not to change position of Geo News and other channels of Geo TV Network interrupting their broadcast;

viii. Direct the Respondents to setup a mechanism for the uninterrupted broadcast of Channels of GEO TV Network.

ix. Direct the Respondents not to harass the cable TV Operators for suspending/blocking/interrupting the broadcast of Geo News TV Channel in any manner whatsoever;

x. Direct the Respondents not to pressurize/ threaten the licensed cable operators to illegally suspend/block the broadcast of electronic media/TV Channels;

xi. Direct the Respondents not to influence/threaten/pressurize licensed cable operators to change channel position of Channels of GEO TV Network from one position to another on a daily basis;
xii. Grant any other better/consequential relief that this Honourable Court finds appropriate in the facts and circumstances of this Petition.
Source: The News
Date:11/11/2010