MNA Amir Liaquat to be indicted: Chief Justice Pakistan

Islamabad: Rejecting PTI MNA and former anchorperson Amir Liaquat Hussain’s unconditional apology, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday said he would be indicted for using derogatory language against the Jang Group and its journalists.

The top judge directed the attorney general for Pakistan to prepare a charge sheet against the alleged contemnor. A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, resumed hearing of contempt petitions filed by the Independent Media Group, Jang and Geo Group against Amir Liaquat. Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsen are the two other members of the bench.

The petitioners had prayed the apex court to initiate contempt proceedings against Amir, as the court had allowed him to continue his programme on the condition that he would abstain from using derogatory words against anyone; however, he did not comply with the court orders. The petitioners had contended that despite submitting an affidavit to the apex court swearing that he will not air derogatory remarks in his programme ‘Aisa Nahin Chalay Ga”, the accused used a derogatory language against Jang and Geo Group besides terming the Chief Executive of Jang and Geo Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, Mir Ibrahim and anchorperson Shahzeb Khanzada as traitors and Indian agents.

“After going through the contents of reply filed by the alleged contemnor, we would like to frame a charge against him and let the learned Attorney General prepare the charge sheet for next week,” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar announced in the order. The court directed the counsel for the petitioners and respondent to coordinate for the indictment after which both the counsels agreed over September 27 as the date for indictment.

The court had held on August 18 that contempt was established against Amir under Article 204 of the Constitution for using a derogatory language against the Jang Group and its journalists. Issuing a contempt of court notice to Amir, the court had directed him to submit his reply within 15 days. “There remains no doubt that prima facie a case of contempt has been established against the alleged contemnor Amir Liaquat Hussain under Article 204 of the Constitution read with Section 17 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003”, the court had ruled and issued a notice to the respondent/alleged contemnor under Article 204 of the Constitution read with Section 17 of the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003. He shall submit his reply within 15 day of the issuance of the order.

Later, in pursuance of the court’s order, Amir filed a reply and tendered an unconditional apology to the court. On Tuesday, the chief justice asked the Jang Group and Geo TV counsel if he had gone through the reply submitted by the alleged contemnor. He also asked him to point out those portions which constituted contempt. The counsel replied that it’s a clear-cut case of contempt adding that even after submitting his reply, the learned counsel for the alleged contemnor was bent upon misleading the court. The chief justice observed that besides tendering an unconditional apology, the alleged contemnor had also fought the case. “Even if he apologizes, it doesn’t matter”, the chief justice said.

Justice Ijazul Ahsen, another member of the bench, observed that besides tendering an unconditional apology, Amir had also left himself at the mercy of the court. The chief justice however observed that he also denied the allegations in his reply.

Addressing Shahab Sarki, counsel for Amir, the chief justice if Amir would continue to be an MNA after indictment and proven guilty. The counsel replied in the negative. “We are not going to spare the contempt, as we don’t accept this apology,” the CJP remarked. Amir’s counsel however sought more time to give some background in the instant case. He said they wanted to show more video clips to the apex court. “How much more time can we give you,” the CJP asked the counsel. “Let the attorney general come and we’ll indict the alleged contemnor,” the CJP said, adding they were not sitting here to be insulted.

Meanwhile, on his request two video clips of Amir Liaquat were played in the courtroom on a projector. Amir’s counsel said the court had issued an order on August 10 and in pursuance of the order a complete video clip was submitted.

The counsel for Jang Group contended that the court had passed an order on March 6, 2017 in Civil Petition No. 541/2017, passing the directions with regard to respondent NO. 1 (respondent) wherein the court had ruled that without causing any prejudice to the authority of Pemra as per the provisions of Section 27 of the Ordinance of 2002 [PEMRA Ordinance 2002], Amir Liaquat shall not conduct or broadcast, re-broadcast or distribute any programme, which in any way whatsoever was against the ideology of Pakistan, or was likely to create hatred among the people or was prejudicial to the maintenance of law and order or was likely to disturb public peace and tranquility or endangered national security or was pornographic, obscene or vulgar or was offensive to the commonly accepted standards of decency; and that he shall not engage in any practice or act which amounted to abuse of media power by way of harming the legitimate interests of another licensee or willfully caused damage to another person; and that he shall not perform any act or conduct himself in any manner that violates the Code of Conduct of Media Broadcasters or Cable TV Operators (the Code of Conduct).

The counsel however contended that after the said order of the court, Amir again conducted programs against the Jang Group, violating the court orders. He said video clips were still available with them. The counsel played a video clip in which Amir was referring to an anchorperson of ZEE TV Sudhir Chaudhry, alleging him for taking bhatha (extortion) for running a statement. The chief justice observed that the video clips so far shown portrayed that the alleged contemnor was terming Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman father of Bharat and Mir Ibrahim son of Bharat.

The counsel for the alleged contemnor however said that Amir was referring to an anchorperson of ZEE TV calling him son of Bharat but not Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman. At this, addressing the counsel the chief justice said they wanted to compare both the video clips. “We are also understanding and you too as well,” the CJP told counsel for Amir adding that his body language spoke as well.