The Panama Case has been covered by almost all renowned newspapers and TV channels. Ever since this case is pending, the newspapers and TV channels have been extensively covering the case in an opinionated manner. Recently a specific news item appeared in a newspaper where News reporter claimed that Joint Investigation Team has not found Prime Minister guilty but his two sons. The News item has gone on to state its opinion on various issues, which were pending before the Court. On the basis of undisclosed source, the news reporter rendered his own findings on the contents of JIT Report and printed his observations on the basis of his objective assessment. Since the nature of news was such which could possibly be termed as an attempt to influence the administration of justice, the Supreme Court has issued contempt notice to the Publisher as well as the Editor of the newspaper.
Under Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, the Media and every citizen have the right to freedom of speech and expression, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, commission of or incitement to an offence. As the plain reading of the Article suggests any person including Journalists and the Press would not have any unfettered right under the garb of freedom of speech to even flout the mandate of law. There has to be some constrains and the restrains on the aspect of manner in covering the court proceedings and where such publication interferes with the administration of justice, then certainly court can take some effective measures, including the proceedings under the Contempt of Courts Act.Continue reading