ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) director general and Attorney General of Pakistan on Monday earned the ire of the Supreme Court for submitting incomplete transcript of former PML-N loyalist Nehal Hashmi’s incendiary speech aired on different news channels, ARY News reported.
A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, was seized with the suo moto case against the senator for a bitter diatribe against the judiciary and members of Panama Joint Investigation Team (JIT), formed to probe money laundering allegations against the ruling Sharif family.
The court adjourned the hearing till August 21 while directing the counsel of Nehal Hashmi to submit his reply and produce witnesses in his defense in the next hearing.
Director General of PEMRA Haji Adam, who appeared before the bench as a witness, told the court that he has submitted CDs containing video recording of the speech in question aired by the news channels along with their transcripts.
However, the bench observed, the transcripts were incomplete as it did not include the portion of the speech aired on ARY News.
If the telecasted speech found to be larger than and different from the content of the transcripts submitted before us, the Attorney General and the Pemra DG will have to face the consequences, remarked Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed.
To which, AG Ashtar Ausaf said he wasn’t misleading the court, adding that he had seen the video clip of the speech and no channel aired the entire speech.
At the outset, Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that it was apparent that the accused had committed contempt of court.
Hasmat Habeeb, the counsel for the senator, blamed PTI chairman Imran Khan for his client’s fiery diatribe, saying that it all happened because of him. He reiterated the stance that his client did not intend to threaten the judges or the JIT but his speech was telecasted out of context.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan taunted him, saying, “Had your client delivered speech without considering pros and cons.”
The bench came down hard on the counsel for seeking time to submit his response to the show-cause notice, observing that the reply on behalf of the accused had already been submitted, if such need arose, the bench will decide whether to seek another reply in the case.
The counsel said that he had to bring witnesses from Karachi in his defense and bear their travel and lodging expenses, which he said his client cannot afford because of inflation.
A video had emerged on social media featuring the PML-N senator Nehal Hashmi addressing a gathering in which he warned opponents and those probing the Panama Papers allegations of dire consequences if they continued with the accountability of PM Nawaz Sharif and his family.
Earlier, Hashmi pleaded with the bench to nullify the criminal cases registered against him in Karachi, to which Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh of the bench replied that is not the court’s concern.
It is worth mentioning here that the top court had taken a suo motu notice after Hashmi’s — then the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Sindh secretary general — video surfaced on May 31 in which he threatened those investigating the prime minister.
Subsequently, the PML-N disassociated itself from the diatribe and later expelled him from the party.