SC says apology not unconditional, indicts channel’s CEO, anchor
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday indicted a notorious channel’s Chief Executive Salman Iqbal and anchor Mubashir Lucman in a contempt of court case for maligning the judiciary during a programme without any proof.
A three-member special bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan and comprising Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Justice Mushir Alam, resumed hearing of a contempt of court case against ARY’s Salman Iqbal and Mubashir Lucman.
The court rejected the unconditional apologies of the two and framed charges of contempt against them for maligning the judiciary while airing a programme.The court directed the Attorney General for Pakistan Salman Aslam Butt to submit a list of witnesses within 15 days for prosecuting the two.
The court also directed both the respondents to submit their replies within seven days by answering the questions asked in the charge sheet.Last week, Irfan Qadir, counsel for the respondents inpursuance of the court’s order of December 12, 2014, had submitted an unconditional apology to the court stating that in the larger national and public interest, it was resolved by the respondents to seek an unconditional and unqualified apology for the unintended consequences from the apex court, so as to make it absolutely clear to all and sundry, including the apex court, that respect for the judiciary and its judges was dear to the respondents.
On Monday, the court observed that on the one hand the respondents sought an unconditional and unqualified apology and on the other hand they submitted that the apology was tendered for the unintended consequences. After rejecting the apology, the court farmed charges against them.
The court first gave the charge sheet to Mubashir Luqman that read: “You Mubashir Luqman in your programme Khara Sach, aired on ARY TV on May 29, 2014, by your words, gestures and tone not only defamed and scandalised this court, but also tended to bring into hatred, ridicule and contempt and that you on the same day and time made a statement against a judge of this court in order to bring into hatred, ridicule and contempt and hereby committed a contempt of court within the meanings of Article 204 (2) of the Constitution read with Section 3 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance V of 2003 punishable under Section 5 of the Ordinance and within the cognizance of this court. We hereby, direct that you be tried by the court on the above said charge.”
The court asked Mubashir Luqman to read the charge and answer the questions asked in the charge sheet.“I do not feel guilty and will contest the case,” Mubashir Luqman after reading the charge Sheet, told the court.
Kashif Abbasi, another anchorperson who was also present in the courtroom, tried to come to the rostrum.“Who are you?” asked Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, a member of the bench.“I am also an employee of the ARY TV and want to say something,” Abbasi replied. “We will not hear you,” Justice Ijaz Chaudhry said.
Irfan Qadir sought time for answering the questions asked in the charge sheet. He said they just came to submit a written apology.The court, however, asked the learned counsel that they may submit a reply to the questions but as per law the respondents had to say yes or no before the court during the framing of charges in the contempt of court case.
The court then asked Salman Iqbal to come to the rostrum and handed him the charge sheet. The court asked him to read and reply as to whether he accepted the charge. Salman Iqbal, however, said he had submitted an unconditional apology to the court.
Mubashir Luqman, however, came to the rostrum and said Salman Iqbal was not responsible for airing the said programme.“You can appear as a witness later but at the moment Salman Iqbal should say either yes or no to the charge sheet,” Justice Ijaz Chaudhry told the anchor.
Meanwhile, the court directed the attorney general to come up with the list of witnesses in the instant case after 15 days to prosecute the respondents.Earlier, on December 12, 2014, Salman Iqbal and Mubashir Luqman agreed to tender an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court for maligning the judiciary while airing a programme.
They had told the Supreme Court, through their counsel, that they did not want to plead the case any further and were ready to tender an unconditional apology.The court on December 2 directed the two to appear in person before it on December 12 for framing of charges against them.
Irfan Qadir filed an application with the apex court on December 2 for exemption of Salman Iqbal from appearing before the court, stating that he was abroad for his daughter’s medical treatment after which the court summoned him on December 12.
The learned counsel, however, apprised the court that both Salman Iqbal and Mubashir Luqman didn’t want to plead the case further and were ready to tender an unconditional apology to the court adding that both had great regard and respect for the judiciary.
The court then asked the learned counsel to submit a written apology. The court directed the counsel that both Salman Iqbal and Mubashir Luqman should appear before it in person and submit an unconditional written apology on the next date of hearing and adjourned the hearing till January 5.