Islamabad: Pakistan Supreme Court on Thursday deferred till Nov 17 indictment of chief executive of a private television network and an anchorperson for allegedly telecasting scandalous and defamatory programmes against the judiciary.
The framing of contempt charges against Salman Iqbal and Mubashir Lucman of the ARY News was put off when a three-judge bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan was informed about filing of an Intra-Court Appeal (ICA) against the Oct 13 order to indict them.
Senior counsel Irfan Qadir has filed an ICA on behalf of Mr Iqbal and Mr Lucman with a request that pending disposal of the appeal the operation of Oct 13 order be suspended.
The counsel cited the contempt case against former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who also had moved an ICA against the decision by a seven-judge court to indict him. The ICA was heard by an eight-judge bench during the pendency of which the framing of charges remained postponed.
The court said it was not inclined to stay the contempt proceedings but added that it would treat Mr Qadir just as it did Babar Awan who was given some time after he had filed an ICA in the former premier’s case.
“Rest assured, we will be as cool as a cucumber and just as dispassionate as a judge,” Justice Khan observed.
He was seconded by Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, another member of the bench who observed that conducting contempt proceedings was not a pleasant job but the court had to follow the rules.
“We harbour no ill-will or anger,” Justice Chaudhry remarked and added that the court would provide every opportunity to the respondents to defend themselves.
Speaking on behalf of Mr Lucman, Mr Qadir said the anchorperson held the judiciary in highest esteem and it was unthinkable for him to ridicule the institution. The situation at hand was the product of “some unintended consequences of his actions”, he added.
At this, Justice Khan observed that if Mr Lucman wanted to express his regrets and immense remorse then he should have tendered an unconditional apology and the court would have considered it.
The court had decided to indict the respondents after going through the transcript of the episode of ‘Khara Such’ programme telecast on May 29, 2014 and the reply submitted by them under Article 204 of the Constitution and the Contempt of Court Ordinance 5 of 2003.
Mr Lucman had levelled serious allegations in his programme on Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja.