Thursday July 18, 2024

Supreme Court rejects Mustafa Kamal's apology

Apex court issues notices to all TV channels; seek's Pemra's response over ban on reporting court proceedings

By Arfa Feroz Zake
June 05, 2024
Muttahida Qaumi Movements (MQM) Deputy Convener Mustafa Kamal. — X/ @KamalMQM/File
Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) Deputy Convener Mustafa Kamal. — X/ @KamalMQM/File

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) Wednesday dismissed Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Deputy Convener Mustafa Kamal's request seeking immediate acceptance of his apology in a suo motu case pertaining to contempt of court.

The court's rejection of Kamal's request comes as a three-member bench, led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, heard the contempt of court case against him and independent Senator Faisal Vawda.

Both, Kamal and Vawda, had held hard-hitting press conferences against the judiciary in Islamabad in May with the latter saying that no allegations could be levelled without evidence.

Whereas, the MQM-P leader, during his presser, sought to establish ethical standards for the judges as justice could "only be bought".

Their statements had come after six Islamabad High Court (IHC) judges wrote a letter to Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) members, pointing out the intelligence agency’s meddling in judicial affairs. The politicos also pointed out the dual citizenship of an IHC judge.

Shortly after their tirade, the SC on Thurs­day swung into action against the leaders and took suo motu notice. Following a hearing on May 17, the court issued show-cause notices to the lawmakers.

In their responses, Kamal sought an unconditional apology and said he held "all the judges, in particular, the judges of the superior courts of Pakistan in the highest respect and esteem".

Meanwhile, Senator Vawda refused to issue an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court and sought an end to the matter, saying that several others had issued remarks similar to his.

Today's hearing

During the hearing today, Kamal's lawyer Barrister Farogh Naseem requested the court to accept his client's one-page unconditional apology.

The lawyer stressed that his client had in fact talked about pending Riba (usury) cases. "Aren't those cases [filed] before the Federal Shariat Court?" CJP Isa questioned.

Elaborating on the decision to take suo motu over the speeches, CJP said that nobody was subjected to abuse as he was.

"Is such abusive language used in any country?" CJP Isa questioned while lamenting the use of obscene language.

"I didn't take [suo motu] notice [regarding the criticism] on me but on the fact that you talked about the judiciary," he added.

In response to the request of Moiz Ahmed, Vawda's lawyer, that his client wanted to speak about Pemra, the top judge said: "We have to listen to you [as] you are the counsel."

"What did your client say? We will have to see whether there is contempt of court or not," the chief justice noted.

Responding to Ahmed's request that he wanted to read out the questions and answers of Vawda's press conference, Justice Saadat said: "In response to a journalist's question, you [your client] clearly said that he had come to speak against Justice Babar Sattar and Justice Athar Minallah.

Lamenting the media's role in streaming the speeches, CJP Isa said: "The television channels promote obscene language the most [...] these speeches were streamed for 34 minutes [so] shall we now issue notices to them as well?"

"The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has enforced an absurd law prohibiting court reporting [...] This is unfair, why can't court proceedings be reported?" he added.

"We saved all the journalists," the chief justice said while stressing that people get paid in dollars for telling lies.

"If someone wants to criticise my decisions, read them first," he said.

The court then issued notices to all the TV channels for broadcasting derogatory speeches directing them to submit their responses within two weeks.

Furthermore, the apex court has also sought Pemra's response regarding the ban on reporting court proceedings.

The case has been adjourned till June 28 with the apex court giving Vawda one week's time to submit his response to the suo motu.

Will accept SC decision: Vawda

In a press conference after the hearing, Vawda, who did not get a chance to speak during the hearing, said he would accept whatever decision the court arrives at, but clearly stated that he would not apologise as he had done nothing wrong.

"I've always respected the chief justice and his bench. The court heard Mustafa Kamal's case in detail, my turn is yet to come," the independent senator said.

Kamal, while speaking to reporters outside the apex court, said if his statements were in contempt of the court, then he seeks an unconditional apology.