SC slams Pemra for furnishing different version of Hashmi’s speech

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday came down hard on the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for misleading it by furnishing the transcript of Nehal Hashmi’s May 28 outburst that was different from the one aired by private television channels.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan had taken up contempt of the court proceedings against Senator Hashmi, a former ruling party loyalist who in his uncharitable remarks appeared to have threatened members of the Joint Investigation Team and the judiciary for probing Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks.
The apex court regretted that the transcript submitted by Pemra Director General Haji Adam was different from the one telecast by different TV channels.
Mr Hashmi was indicted on July 10 for committing contempt of the court by maligning the judiciary.
Mr Adam, who appeared before the court as prosecution witness, submitted CDs (compact disk) containing recordings of Mr Hashmi’s speech along with the transcript and a list of all TV channels which had aired the speech. But the court regretted that the witness had attempted to mislead the court by furnishing incomplete and different excerpts of the speech.
When the video clip of the speech was played in the courtroom during the hearing, the court observed that it did not contain those parts of the speech that amounted to contempt of the court.
But the Pemra director general explained that the authority had taken notice of only those remarks which violated its code of conduct.
A version of the speech aired on ARY News was also shown on the court’s directive after which it asked why this transcript was not attached to the material submitted by Pemra to the court.
Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali, the prosecutor in the case, also argued that no channel showed the entire speech of Mr Hashmi; every channel had aired different segments of the speech.
But Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that if the television channels had shown the content which was not included in the records furnished before the court, the Pemra director general would not go home, but to jail. The court also reminded Mr Adam that since he appeared as a prosecution witness under oath, he should say nothing but truth.
Meanwhile, Mr Hashmi’s counsel Hashmat Habib sought more time to submit another reply to explain the circumstances under which his client had delivered the speech.
Although the court reminded the counsel that he had already submitted a 27-page reply, it allowed him to submit additional statements. The court directed him to present his witnesses at the next hearing on Aug 21.
Source: DAWNnihal hashmi

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