ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday a three-month ban on anchorperson Dr Shahid Masood’s TV show.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar was hearing a suo motu case on the anchorperson’s now-debunked allegations about the Zainab murder case convict’s ‘foreign links’.
During today’s proceedings, the anchorperson submitted an unconditional apology to the court but the bench ruled to reprimand the anchorperson over his controversial remarks.
As the hearing began, the chief justice revealed that the anchorperson had ridiculed a court officer on his show a day after appearing in court.
“It is possible we initiate contempt proceedings against him,” the chief justice remarked, adding, “how dare he say this about my law officer”.
The chief justice then directed the airing of the TV programme in court and adjourned the hearing briefly before reconvening and suspending the show.
As the hearing resumed, the chief justice remarked that the anchorperson had said if the allegations are proved false, then he should be hanged. “Now you decide your own punishment,” he added.
The court agreed to a three-month ban on Masood’s programme after he submitted a written apology on its directions.
“Maybe you take the courts lightly. This is not the old judiciary,” the chief justice remarked, adding that the apex court is working until 7pm these days.
On March 1, a joint investigation team (JIT), formed on the court’s orders, had submitted its report to the Supreme Court and dismissed all of the anchorperson’s allegations regarding the high-profile case.
Zainab murder case allegations
Zainab was kidnapped on January 4 in Kasur and found dead five days later from a garbage pile. The post-mortem revealed Zainab had been raped. Later, the authorities succeeded in nabbing the suspect, Imran. He has since been sentenced to death by the trial court.
In a TV show on Jan 25, Dr Masood had claimed the convict had links with an influential figure and was part of an international ring. The chief justice had taken notice of the claims and sought a subsequent inquiry by a JIT.
In its report to the apex court, the JIT declared baseless all of the 18 allegations levelled by the anchorperson.
The JIT report states that no proof was found of the convict’s connection with an influential person or that he was being patronised by a federal minister.
It also states that no links of the convict with an international mafia or a serving federal minister were found.
Similarly, no proof was found that the convict could be killed while in police custody or that violent crime/child pornography is common in Kasur.
Moreover, the JIT did not find any truth to Dr Masood’s claims that many gangs are involved in violent crime/child pornography in Pakistan or that Imran was an active member of such gangs.
Allegations that the convict’s bank accounts were spread throughout Pakistan or that he received payments from abroad for crimes were also proven to be false.
Additionally, claims that Imran sent Zainab’s picture to international viewers before committing the crime, or that the incident was viewed live via the internet, were found to be false, with an observation by the JIT members that no evidence of Imran ever accessing the Dark Web or internet have been found.
Moreover, no proof was found that Dr Masood handed the name of an influential figure linked to the convict to the Supreme Court, nor was there any truth found about the claim that a close friend of the influential figure living abroad communicated information about the role of influential figure in violent crime/child pornography in Pakistan.
The report also reveals that the rejection of the convict’s multiple bank accounts had already been issued by the relevant authority.
The JIT, headed by Federal Investigation Agency Director General Bashir Memon, included Intelligence Bureau Joint DG Anwar Ali and Islamabad Police’s Assistant Inspector General (Operations) Asmatullah Junejo.