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March 13, 2018

No pardon for TV anchor, Nehal Hashmi

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March 13, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday turned down the replies filed by a TV anchor and PML-N’s Nehal Hashmi, mentioning that they will not be pardoned. The apex court appointed an amicus curie in a suo moto case regarding anchorperson Dar Shahid Masood’s programme wherein he made some claims about the convicted rapist and murderer of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur. A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice (CJ) Mian Saqib Nisar resumed hearing and appointed Faisal Siddiqui as amicus curie. The court issued notices to Attorney General for Pakistan and Prosecutor General Punjab. The CJ observed that Dr Shahid Masood has not tendered apology in his written statement saying he will be dealt with in accordance with law.

Last week, the court declined to accept a verbal apology from the anchor after the inquiry committee in its report had found his allegations to be untrue. On Monday, Shah Khawar, counsel for the anchor, submitted before the court that their reply submitted on last Saturday had a printing mistake and was missing a paragraph, which is why a new reply was submitted in court.

The counsel read out the missing paragraph, wherein the anchor submitted that whatever he had said in the programme was spontaneous and result of himself being over-sensitive about the sad incident, however, the inconvenience caused to this august court and people effected out of the same is highly regretted.

The CJ said that notice is being issued to Attorney General as well as Prosecutor General Punjab as to what punishment can be given under Anti-Terrorism Act. Shah Khawar questioned as to whether his client has committed more heinous crime than the rapist for which anti-terrorism act could be applied.

At this, Chief Justice said that the court will look into the matter after Attorney General and Prosecutor General appear before it. The court asked the lawyer to provide Additional Advocate General Punjab Asma Hamid a copy of the fresh reply. Shah Khawar contended that his client is a well known journalist, highlighting important issues adding that it was his first omission for which he has regretted; hence, his regret should be honored without proceeding further in the matter. The counsel contended that the issue was related to an investigative reporting in which sometimes fault can be made adding that if the court takes notices of such things, everyday a journalist will be in front of the court.

Justice Umer Ata Bandyal, another member of the bench, observed that they are not trying to punish someone but will look into the matter and will pass a judgment on it which will settle such issues. Later, the court adjourned the hearing until March 20. Online adds: In the case of Nehal Hashmi, the SC rejected his reply besides fixing March 26 for indicting him again in contempt of court case.

Hashmi appeared before the court in person taking the plea that he has filed his reply. “Every man commits mistake. Can a lawyer be not forgiven over repentance?” he contended. “I offered unconditional apology on the assurance of Kamran Murtaza but even then I was disqualified. I was awarded jail term and was fined,” he said. Hashmi said, “I never named any judge. I respect and will continue to respect judiciary. I raised voice of poor and oppressed prisoners. Is raising voice of oppressed prisoners a sin?”

The CJ remarked, “You have said something else besides raising voice. Your reply has been received. We have seen what you have written. Court is not satisfied over your reply. Let us indict you in contempt of court case. Is it your full defence?”

Hashmi said such an incident has not occurred in 32 years. “The CJ also withdrew his remarks about women skirt. If CJ’s words can be withdrawn then why not of a common man? Should I then think that I am being victimised politically?” he questioned.

The CJ remarked, “We are listening to you silently. Stay within your limits.” Hashmi said what is left with him after his disqualification from Senate. Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan remarked, “You are maligning the apex court of the country.” The CJ remarked, “By the grace of God ideal decisions will be given.” The court while fixing March 26 for indicting Hashmi adjourned the hearing of the case.

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