Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Judicial (IHC), Athar Minallah observed on Friday that former chief judge Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Shamim and journalists appeared to have committed criminal contempt, as the newspaper’s affidavit was not part of any judicial proceedings.

“The court is satisfied that the acts of the alleged contemnors, prima facie, constitute committing criminal contempt and, therefore, proceeded under the Ordinance of 2003 by framing of charge,” the 12-page written order of the Dec 28 hearing stated.

Rana Shamim and others have been asked to appear in court on January 7 for prosecution in the contempt of court case. 

Additionally, the IHC also appointed Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed as the prosecutor in the case.

According to the court order, Editor Aamer Ghauri and reporter Ansar Abbasi had taken an unexpected stand in court, stating that they had published the news report in the public interest. It seemed that the editor and the journalist concerned considered the affidavit content as correct.

The order stated that freedom of expression did not apply to the cases pending in the courts.

In its ruling, the IHC said that Aamir Ghauri and Ansar Abbasi stressed that “reporting and publication of the news item, regardless of its consequences, was protected by the freedom of expression as a journalistic duty.”

“This court is mindful of the paramount importance of guarding free press and freedom of expression and it is manifested by its judgments,” the order stated.

However, the order added that any publication calculated to interfere with the due administration of justice or prejudicial to the rights of others is definitely not covered under the freedom of expression.

The order said prima facie, the news report was published without taking reasonable care.

“No attempt was made by the journalist to verify the material facts from the Registrar of this court whether the judge named therein had been performing judicial functions or was on leave and whether he was one of the members of the bench constituted during the relevant period.

“It further appears that the reporter had not sought any legal advice regarding the status of a copy of a leaked document in the form of an affidavit,” added the order.

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