ISLAMABAD - The full court session of the Supreme Court has formed a two-member committee to look into the matter of a controversial TV interview of real estate tycoon Malik Riaz.
The panel, comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, will investigate this ‘attempt to defame the apex court’ through an apparently planted TV show and take action under the contempt of court laws.
The chief justice had summoned all the judges of all registries to attend Friday’s 3pm meeting of the Full Court to discuss progress on rules of working committee, registration of advocates of record and fixation of cases.
However, it was widely believed that the meeting was being held to discuss Arsalan financial scandal carrying allegations that the chief justice’s son received bribes to influence court cases against Riaz pending before the courts.
During the meeting, the chief justice took notice of the TV show and summoned from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (Pemra) the on-air and off-air clips of the talk show.
The show was aired on Wednesday in which Mubashir Lucman and Mehr Bokhari interviewed real estate tycoon Malik Riaz in the light of the ongoing controversy pertaining to corruption allegations against Arsalan Iftikhar, son of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
The footage of unguarded interaction of Lucman and Bokhari with each other and with Riaz, the main character of country’s one of the biggest ever scandals involving the judiciary, was uploaded on the internet on Wednesday night.
Pemra Chairman Abdul Jabbar submitted the videos and report of the interview to the meeting. The clips were viewed inside the courtroom in the presence of Pemra chairman. It was probably for the first time that all the private media reporters were invited to cover the full court meeting.
Presiding the session, Chief Justice Ifitkhar Muhammad Chaudhry said that during the last week there were several attempts to undermine the judiciary and now it has necessary to figure out as who was behind this wicked activity. The judiciary was being maligned day and night, he said, adding that not even the parliament could say anything against the judiciary.
Before that, Supreme Court Registrar Faqir Hussain read out a note, duly approved by the chief justice, stating that the anchors questioned Riaz according to the latter’s wish and the instructions passed on by the channel administration can also be seen in the leaked video. He told the judges that it was an attempt to malign the judiciary and the leaked video showed that the programme was staged and the questions were planted.
The registrar said Riaz was given questions and pre-prepared answers before the show began and Abdul Qadir Gilani’s call during the show also indicated that the show was planted. A conspiracy to defame the judiciary was being hatched in the show, and an attempt to make a mockery of the judiciary and the judges was also observed in the leaked video, he added.
“On the face of it, the footage showing conversation behind the scenes smells of a planned conspiracy to shake public faith and confidence in the administration of justice and undermine the dignity and prestige of the court, thereby tending to bring the court and judges into hatred, ridicule or contempt. It further tends to prejudice the determination of pending cases before the Supreme Court. It therefore warrants action under article 204 of the constitution read with Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003,” read the registrar note.
The SC registrar also denied the allegation of Malik Riaz that he helped Arsalan get a room in the Balochistan House. He said that house and security to Arsalan Iftikhar was being provided by the Islamabad Police on the order of the Supreme Court.
The chief justice inquired from the Pemra chief if he was aware of what was being broadcast on television channels and if there was any violation in the Malik Raiz’s interview. He also asked the chairman as to what they could do in order to stop such contemptuous programmes.
The chairman replied that channels that violate the law are issued notices and action is taken when complaints are received. He added that even the licenses of the violators of the media laws are cancelled. The chairman said that if the court takes a decision, then Pemra can initiate proceedings according to the law.
After deliberations, the meeting expressed faith and determination in maintaining and further strengthening the independence of judiciary so as to ensure free, fair and impartial dispensation of justice.
It agreed to take action under the contempt of court law against those responsible for the apparently planted TV show and constituted the two-member bench to investigate the matter. It also ordered the Pemra chairman to submit a comprehensive report on the issue. The chairman will submit the report to the SC registrar, who would place the same before the committee members for perusal and recommendation for further course of action, if required.
From the footage it appears that the whole show was pre-planed in which planted questions were asked and the interviewer coached the interviewee in giving answers. It is indicative of a pre-planed conspiracy against judiciary to scandalise the court, prejudice the determination of pending matters in the court and bring the judges into hatred and ridicule.
The same matter remained sub judice in suo moto case No. 5 of 2012 as well as Criminal Original Petition No. 48-49 of 2012. An SC bench comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain has passed a judgment in this regard and bemoaned the role of some anchor persons, particularly the lack of due diligence on their part to scrutinise the material and ascertain the true fact of the case.
The SC full court meeting, chaired by the chief justice, was attended by all judges namely Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan, Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Justice Nasirul Mulk, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Tariq Parvez, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Justice Sarmad Jalal osmany, Justice Amir Hani Muslim, Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Muhammad Ather Saeed and Justice Sh Azmat Saeed.
SC panel to probe Riaz leaked video