Islamabad - Dismissing reply of ARY TV Chief Executive Officer and anchorperson, the Supreme Court Monday summoned them for framing of charges for telecasting anti-judiciary programme on 30th October.

A three-member special bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal, hearing Independent Media Group’s petition on September 09 had issued contempt of court notices to anchorperson Mubashir Luqman and CEO of the ARY TV channel for maligning the apex court judges in a programme telecast on May 29 this year.

Other members of the bench included Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Justice Mushir Alam.

Justice Ejaz stated: “After going through the transcript of the two clips that contained anti-judiciary remarks and reply filed by the respondent we are of the opinion to proceed with the contempt matter against CEO ARY Salman Iqbal and anchorperson Mubashir Luqman.” They should appear before the court on 30th October for framing of charges in person.

The bench on September 9 had issued contempt of court notices to Salman and Luqman under Article 204 of the Constitution read with Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.

Earlier, Advocate Irfan Qadir, appearing on behalf of Salman and Luqman, apprised that they have filed the reply. He prayed the court to exercise restraint in contempt cases against his clients and withdraw the show cause notices in the interest of justice.

In the reply the ARY CEO and the anchorperson questioned which portions of the transcript of the CD call for initiation of contempt of court proceedings.

In the absence of specific mention of such portions the notice under reply apart from being vague and unclear is not a notice as per the dictates of natural justice, which in itself is capable of being replied.

It may also be mentioned that Section 17(2) is inapplicable to the case in hand especially when no specific reference has been made to any contemptuous matter therein. There is nothing in the entire CD, which can be termed as contemptuous since the relevant CD contains absolutely nothing contemptuous against the judiciary.

Qadir said his clients hold the judiciary in high esteem and it is unthinkable for them to say even the slightest derogatory, scandalous or contemptuous word against either the defacto or the dejure judiciary.

He submitted that in any case the subject matter of present contempt proceedings is directly in issue in Suit No. 1014 of 2014 presently pending in Sindh High Court. As such this court should in all fairness avoid proceeding further in the matter till the issue is decided by Sindh High Court so as to prevent the multiplicity of litigation or any inconsistency between the two jurisdictions.

He objected to the notice and said his client would respectfully furnish those objections along with the supporting documents. The respondent reserves the right to present his contentions in this respect at the time of arguments.

Regarding placing of banners against a judge of the apex court, the bench returned the ISI report presented to the court in the last hearing with the request to treat it as classified and confidential. The court said it was a matter of commission, therefore, the agencies continue the investigation and submit its finding in the open court.

Justice Ejaz said let everything be done in black and white and transparency be maintained. “We don’t believe in opaque secrecy,” he added.

The bench referred the connected petitions to the chief justice for approval.