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Pakistan enforces a ban on media coverage of contemptuous content against the judiciary

Pakistan enforces a ban on media coverage of contemptuous content against the judiciary

The federal government has directed TV channels and newspapers to refrain from broadcasting or publishing contemptuous content against the judiciary, in line with a Supreme Court directive.

A notification issued by the Press Information Department (PID) cited the Supreme Court’s order dated May 17, which had issued show-cause notices to independent Senator Faisal Vawda and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader Mustafa Kamal for contempt of court over their critical press conferences targeting the judiciary.

Quoting the Supreme Court’s directive, the PID notification emphasized that television channels and all entities involved in broadcasting or publishing content constituting contempt of court should abstain from doing so. Failure to comply might result in contempt of court proceedings against them.

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In a written order issued on May 18, a three-member Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justice Irfan Saadat Khan and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afgan, addressed a suo motu case regarding the press conferences held by Vawda and Kamal.

The court’s order instructed the media to refrain from airing or publishing material that could be construed as contemptuous towards the court, cautioning of potential legal repercussions for non-compliance. Furthermore, the bench issued show-cause notices to Vawda and Kamal, expressing that their statements seemed prima facie to amount to contempt of court. Both individuals were given a two-week period to provide explanations and were directed to appear before the court on June 5.