34 media channels noticed for airing Vawda, Kamal’s contemptuous pressers
ISLAMABAD: (Web Desk) The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) on Wednesday issued contempt notice to 34 news channels for airing anti-judiciary pressers of Senator Faisal Vawda and Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Mustafa Kamal.

Led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and consisting of Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, a three-member Supreme Court bench heard the contempt of court case against the political duo.

Earlier in May, both the politicians had addressed press conferences criticising the judiciary. On Tuesday, Senator Faisal Vawda and MNA Mustafa Kamal requested the Supreme Court to withdraw the contempt of court charges. Mr Vawda explained that he never intended to bring the judiciary into disrepute while Mr Kamal tendered unconditional apology before the court.

On May 17, the bench issued contempt charges against the two lawmakers for their outburst against the judiciary by holding separate press conferences at the National Press Club in Islamabad.

The notices were issued apparently for several malicious allegations against the judiciary as well as the judges.

Barrister Farogh Naseem represented Kamal during Tuesday’s hearing, and requested the court to accept his client's unconditional apology consisting of one page.

The counsel pleaded that his client had actually referred to pending Riba (usury) cases. The CJP asked whether those cases were filed before the Federal Shariat Court. The top judge expressed dismay at being subjected to abusive language, and questioned whether such language was acceptable in any other country.

The CJP remarked that the notice wasn’t about criticism at him personally rather about criticism against the judiciary. Meanwhile, Vawda’s lawyer Moiz Ahmed conveyed his client’s desire to discuss Pemra but the CJP Isa remarked that the court was to hear him as counsel.

Addressing the counsel’s request to read out the questions and answers from Vawda’s press conference, Justice Saadat noted Vawda’s explicit targeting of Justice Babar Sattar and Justice Athar Minallah.

The CJP flayed media channels for broadcasting the press conference and questioned Pemra’s ban on reporting court proceedings. Stressing the importance of journalistic integrity, the top judge criticized those who spread falsehoods for monetary gain.

The court issued notices to 34 TV channels for airing derogatory speeches and instructed them to respond within two weeks. In addition, the court sought Pemra’s reply regarding the ban on reporting court proceedings.

Besides, the SC rejected the apology tendered by Kamal in contempt case.

Through his counsel, Justice Irfan Sadaat Khan asked Mustafa Kamal to hold a press conference expressing remorse about the earlier presser against the judiciary.

The three-judge bench accepted the request of Vawda’s counsel to reconsider his reply, gave Vawda one week to submit his response to the suo motu notice, and adjourned the case until June 28.

Vawda’s 16-page reply

In his 16-page written reply submitted to the Supreme Court in a contempt case initiated from the dual nationality issue, Senator Faisal Vawda has not issued an unconditional apology rather requested the apex court to withdraw the contempt notice.

The disgruntled PTI leader in his reply argued that other people had also made similar remarks but had not been issued contempt notices.

Requesting the court to show restraint by dismissing the case, Vawda said his remarks were motivated by concerns for the national wellbeing.

Vawda also annexed with his reply the transcripts of speeches by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Raoof Hasan.

He highlighted that Raoof Hasan had threatened judges, while Shehbaz labelled judges as “black sheep,” and Fazl issued threats in a speech outside the SC building.

The former minister had address a press conference on May 15 over the Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges' letter following alleged intelligence agencies’ interference in judicial affairs, and the alleged dual nationality of a senior judge. Besides criticizing the judiciary, he had asked Islamabad High Court (IHC) Judge Babar Sattar to present evidence supporting his allegations about spy agencies meddling in the judiciary.

The next day, the Supreme Court issued contempt notice to him.

Regarding the judiciary’s respect, he said, "I have every respect and regard for the judiciary and could never imagine doing any act which lowered the estimation of the judiciary in any manner."

He added that criticising judicial decisions that negatively impact citizens should not be considered contempt.

Claiming that his presser was made with bona fide intentions and was fair, he said that he had highlighted the need for the judiciary to address issues affecting the public that have been neglected by both the judiciary and the executive.

The Supreme Court is set to hear two contempt cases on June 5 (tomorrow) initiated against Senator Vawda and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan senior leader Mustafa Kamal, who held an identical press conference on May 16.