Third attempt to get gag order against media fails in SC -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Third attempt to get gag order against media fails in SC

Usman Manzoor

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party government on Tuesday failed for the third time in a month to obtain a gag order against the media from the Supreme Court.

The government, which is openly defying Supreme Court’s judgement, has sought curbs on the media from the apex court in three hearings of contempt of court proceeding against Prime Minister first through Aitzaz Ahsan and later twice through Irfan Qadir, the Principle Law Officer of the country but to no avail.

Where the attorney general being the prosecutor in the contempt case questioned the functioning of the Supreme Court judges and judgements, he also did not spare the media, particularly Jang Group for highlighting the truth. Moreover, Ahmed Noorani of The News was also warned by Aitzaz Ahsan that when he will be fired from his job, it will only be Aitzaz who will fight his case that too for free. Aitzaz had earlier warned all the journalists of Jang Group of losing their jobs if he sues the group. However it was AG who wanted a gag order from the court against the independence of media. Irfan Qadir said before a seven-member bench of the court that a fair trial is not possible under pressure of unfair reporting by media. He mentioned that a full fledge media campaign was being run against the constitutional office holders primarily against the presidency. “Biased and unfair reporting is touching its peak which is mainly done by only one media house — Jang Group”, Qadir stated.

Fair reporting is integral part of a fair trial, Qadir insisted. Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk kept on saying that he must come to the facts on the record of the case and should not discuss the media in the court but the attorney general was on a mission. He also insisted that the court pass a restraining order against media but was told by the court to move on.

The attorney general even readout a few news stories and comments published by The News saying that in one news item it has been reported that the AG had met the prime minister and discussed the contempt of court proceedings while “I did meet the PM but the agenda was different.” He also quoted a news item saying that the prosecutor and defence lawyer in the contempt case against the PM were hand in gloves and said that the court should take notice of it. Upon this Justice Gulzar and Justice Sarmed Jalal Usmani told the attorney general that the court was not being affected by the media reports but the AG continued: “But I am being affected and Aitzaz Ahsan was pressurized by media so that he could not give his arguments persuasively.”

Qadir quoted a story of abundant acquittal in NAB courts and another that said that the AG would give hard hitting statements in the Supreme Court. “But my lords, I am very soft spoken”, Irfan Qadir told the court. How many among those in court laughed at it could not be counted. He said that The News has published a headline of chief justice’s statement that ‘Looters made ministers’ and mentioned that though he was not in the court but can say with full affirmation that the CJP cannot say anything like this. Upon this, justice Nasir-ul-Mulk told him that this doesn’t not relate to the case at hand and that the attorney general should move ahead.

“These things lower the dignity of the court and I will fight for the dignity of the court”, . He also submitted a set of twenty-five news stories, comments and analysis written in The News and daily Jang in the court requesting the judges to go through those stories saying Jang Group had tried to narrate the judgement before it has been given by the court.

The News