TV anchor tenders unconditional apology to court
ISLAMABAD: Arshad Sharif – the anchorperson of private TV channel ARY News programme ‘Powerplay’ – tendered an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court on Thursday, which was accepted by a three-member bench.
Apart from Arshad, TV channel’s lawyer Faisal Chaudhry, Pemra Chairman Saleem Beg and counsel for PBA [Pakistan Broadcasters Association] Faisal Siddiqui, Arif Bhatti and Sabir Shakir as well as BOL Director News Sami Ibrahim were also present in the courtroom.
On seeing them, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar – who was heading a three-member bench – remarked that they had a similar committee when they used to run election campaign in college.
Addressing the anchorperson, the chief justice asked him to show any journalism or law book which says a sub judice matter can be discussed in such a manner on media like he had in his programme.
The counsel for TV channel said there was a need to amend the journalism code of conduct in relation with discussion on TV. On this, the chief justice remarked that if freedom of expression and media freedom were basic rights then independence of judiciary was also mentioned in the Constitution.
The chief justice said, “I do not know what you know about journalism, but you do not have the amount of knowledge I have about law.”
The anchor said he sincerely apologises for what he had said in the programme, but the chief justice asked him to tender a written apology.
The PBA lawyer said there was a comprehensive code of conduct on sub judice matters, which allowed only reporting and analysis within the set limits. But the chief justice said it was only about reporting and not what kind of judgment would be passed.
The lawyer said action could also be taken against the channel, including revocation of licence.
Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan said the code of conduct prepared on the court’s directive in the media commission case was not being implemented.
The Pemra chairman said they monitor 91 TV channels and had issued 560 notices to several of them, but the talk about media freedom was always started on issuance of a notice.
To this, the chief justice asked Pemra to move the apex court in case of a TV channel not accepting the Pemra’s authority, saying the court had the powers to act under Article 204.
On the TV channel’s lawyer’s request, the court directed the Pemra not to take action against Arshad, stating that strict action would be taken in case of hosting a similar programme in future.