The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has summoned the owner of the Jang Media Group, Mir Shakilur Rehman, over advertisements in The News International that the court declared ‘anti-judiciary’.
The court also sent notices to the newspaper’s editor, Amir Ghauri, asking him to submit affidavits tendering an apology regarding the adverts, which were printed in the May 23 and 24 issue of the paper.
According to the media outlet, the adverts were sponsored by the family of the late Barrister Fahad Malik, who was gunned down in Islamabad 6 years ago.
The apex court had transferred the case to a lower court, where Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Zafar Iqbal was set to conduct the hearing. However, the family of the late Barrister had demanded a different judge take over the case, alleging that ASJ Zafar was ‘impartial’ and in collaboration with the suspects.
The adverts in question call on Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to take notice of how the ruling judge in the case had allegedly struck a deal with the killers.
The ads further asked that the case be transferred to an ‘impartial and non-partisan judge of dignity’.
The paper published an apology in today’s version (May 25) saying that the staff had overlooked the advertisement as it came from the family of the late barrister and was released by a well-reputed ad agency.
“The senior management of The News International has ordered an inquiry to probe the matter,” the apology read. “Further directions are also passed by the senior management for future to more carefully examine the content of any advertisement being published in the newspaper,” it said.
During the court hearing, Justice Minallah said the newspaper had published the advertisement, which included a picture of CJP Bandial as well, for commercial purposes and that such an act could not be ignored.
“We will not turn a blind eye. Printing such an advertisement is a serious issue,” he said.
Upon this the editor apologized to the court, and assured Justice Minallah that the paper would print a full page apology in tomorrow’s version.
“Do whatever you want, but submit affidavits to the court and tell Mir Shakilur Rehman to appear in person,” the judge said.
The hearing was then adjourned till May 30.