SHC grants stay against The News and its publisher
KARACHI: Justice Hassan Azhar Rizvi of the Sindh High Court stopped the publisher of an English newspaper, The News, from publishing any defamatory news against Aqeel Karim Dhedi (AKD) and his brokerage house.
The judge passed this order on a defamation suit No 606-2013 filed by Aqeel Karim Dhedi through his counsel Barrister Murtaza Wahab. The court adjourned the hearing of the case until May 30.
The king of brokerage houses and a big stock market player, Dhedi, filed a defamation suit of Rs 2 billion against the publisher of The News and requested the court to stop the defendants from publishing any defamatory news against him and his brokerage house.
In the suit, Murtaza Wahab said that on April 17, 2013, the defendants published a skeptical article in its globally acknowledged newspaper The News regarding Pakistan’s booming stock market. It is pertinent to mention here that while the article could have emphasised on the undivided dedication and uncontested business sensibility of the plaintiff, along with others from the same industry, the author vehemently accused the plaintiff of malpractice and manipulation of the market.
The counsel said that the defendant, in complete disregard of the plaintiff’s renowned business sensibility, vigilance and meticulous prognosis in respect of his investments in different entities, further accused him of ‘insider trading’ practices.
He said the plaintiff is also the chairman of the AKD Group, which has been largely responsible in adding to the national exchequer over the years and has always contributed to the economic growth of Pakistan.
The counsel said the defendants are under a duty to corroborate and verify the veracity of any story before publishing, and not to publish a story in haste without conducting due diligence.
The counsel said the defendants should not accuse any person for the sake of making a story or headline out of it.
The counsel said that despite a request and notices to the defendants to tender an apology, they did not make a single statement regarding the defamation or regarding the notice sent by the plaintiff.
The counsel said the statement published in the newspapers not only adversely affects the plaintiff but gives a rather negative portrayal of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP)’s governance in this regard.
The counsel said the statement published in the newspaper was entirely a product of the defendants’ calculative, conniving and shrewd imagination as the regulators (SECP) are perfectly capable and competent to rectify and penalise all acts of malpractices under their span of authority as stock market regulators. He said that by questioning its authority over the same, the defendants not only questioned its competency but also implies its wrongful involvement to protect the allegedly manipulative plaintiff, and therefore, defame the plaintiff in reference to manipulative trading practices.
The counsel said the defendants intentionally made a stinging remark towards the plaintiff, which has lowered his reputation, made him subject to hatred, contempt and ridicule in the eyes of the general public.
The counsel said the freedom of information and expression not only gives the defendants the right to express an opinion but also imposes a duty that they may not disseminate information, which is aimed at damaging or hurting the reputation of any person, including the plaintiff. He said the defendants must always act in a manner, which is responsible, mature and sensible, and must always consider the repercussions that their comments may have on the subject. “The plaintiff is a public figure and being a renowned member of the corporate sector of Pakistan represents Pakistan at various international forums and in various countries, and when he is exposed to the mala fides and vile allegations of the defendant, the image of the country also suffers as a whole.”
The defendants were The News Publications (Pvt) Limited through its chief executive officer, Independent Newspapers Corporation Private Limited through its chief executive officer, editor of The News International, and the editor-in-Chief of The News International. staff report
Source: Daily Times