SC says DG Pemra, AG tried to ‘mislead’ court by submitting ‘incomplete’ Nehal Hashmi speech

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed displeasure with Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) Director General Haji Adam and Attorney General Ashtar Ausuf for submitting a different version of Senator Nehal Hashmi’s speech from the one that aired on TV channels.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal, was conducting a hearing of the case pertaining to the incendiary speech given by Hashmi in which the since-ousted PML-N leader seemingly threatened the SC-appointed joint investigation team (JIT) probing the Sharif family’s business dealings abroad.

The SC had issued Hashmi a show-cause notice for maligning the judiciary on June 1.

During Monday’s proceedings, the bench reviewed material submitted before the court by DG Pemra, who was presented as a witness by the prosecution, and concluded that Adam and the AG had attempted to mislead the court by providing an incomplete record of Hashmi’s speech.

Earlier in the day, Adam had submitted CD recordings of Hashmi’s speech to the court, along with a transcript of the speech and a list of all the TV channels that aired it the day it was delivered. The recordings were played in the court room during the hearing.

“The material that has been shown [before the court today] does not contain the elements [of Hashmi’s speech] that amount to contempt of court,” the bench observed after watching the recordings submitted by Pemra.

The material submitted before the court is incomplete, the bench observed, expressing its displeasure with the AG and Adam.

“No channel showed the entire speech. Rather, all channels aired different sections of the speech,” the AG told the bench.

DG Pemra told the court that the regulatory body takes notice of material that is aired on TV when it violates the code of conduct.

“If TV channels have shown the content that is not included in the records [submitted before the court], DG Pemra will not go home — instead, he will go to jail,” Justice Azmat Saeed remarked.

The version of the speech aired on ARY News was also shown in court on the order of the judges.

Justice Azmat Saeed reminded Adam that as he appeared before the court as a witness, he had taken an oath to “say nothing but the truth.” The judge asked the witness why the transcript of the version of the speech aired on ARY News was not attached to the material submitted before the SC.

“As prosecutor, you have attempted to mislead the court,” Justice Azmat Saeed told the AG. “We will send your witness to jail.”

During the hearing, Hashmi’s lawyer, Hashmat Habib, asked the court to allow him more time to submit another reply before the bench “to clarify the circumstances under which Hashmi delivered his speech”.

Reminding the lawyer that he had already submitted a 27-page reply, the bench allowed him to submit his additional statements and directed him to present his witnesses in the next hearing.