ISLAMABAD: A sessions court Saturday found journalist Asad Kharral guilty of defaming JS Investment Limited (JSIL) and JS Group in a TV programme and sentenced him to three-month rigorous imprisonment (RI).
JSIL Company and JS Group, through their authorised representative Muhammad Khawar Iqbal, had filed a private complaint against the journalist for allegedly running a vilification campaign against them.
According to the complainant, the accused, claiming to be head of ARY News Investigation Cell, appeared in the TV channel’s “KAB TAK” programme and started a vilification campaign against JSIL and JS Group.
He allegedly levelled false and concocted allegations besides making derogatory, defamatory and scandalous remarks to damage the reputation and prestige of JSIL Company and JS Group.
On Saturday, Additional District and Sessions Judge-XI (South) Fateh Mubeen Nizam announced his verdict after recording evidence and arguments from both sides.
“In the present case, it is proved that in the programme telecast on ARY TV channel the accused was a guest and without certifying fact, damaged the reputation of the complainant’s company, and being guest in the programme with a mala fide intention to defame and scandalise the company, levelled false allegations against the complainant,” the judge wrote in the seven-page order.
He noted that the counsel for the accused as well as the accused himself stated that he, being a guest in the said programme, read a report of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which is not only an offence but the accused failed to satisfy the court as to who had authorised him to read the report and whether the said FIA report was authenticated and whether anything proved in the report against the complainant’s company, which is prime duty of print or electronic media person.
“It is necessary to mention that Article 19 of Constitution is about freedom to speech but imposes some limitation. The said article does not provide licence to any person to make personal attempt on an individual to disgrace his dignity and reputation,” he said, adding that the print and electronic media was in no way vested with unfettered liberty and impunity to publish and telecast any material, which is prejudicial to the interest of any person or harm or damage to reputation, honour and prestige of a person.
The judge said he was of the firm view that the complainant has successfully proved the charge against the accused through sufficient and trustworthy evidence as well as placing on record the programme in question.
He convicted Kharral of defamation as defined under Section 500 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment (RI) of three months and directed him to pay a fine of Rs100,000. He would have to undergo additional imprisonment of one month in case of failure to pay the fine.
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