A delegation of senior journalists have conveyed concern of the journalist community to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar over his remarks about veteran journalist Hussain Naqi during hearing of a case pertaining to the Punjab Healthcare Commission’s board of commissioners the other day.
While the chief justice was hearing multiple cases of public interest at the Lahore registry of the Supreme Court, the journalists approached the rostrum of Courtroom 1 and sought permission from the top judge to express their concern.
Former Lahore Press Club presidents Shehbaz Mian and Arshad Ansari, with Shafique Awan, Ziaullah Niazi, Gohar Butt and Shahzad Butt, stated that Naqi is a man of principles and enjoys great respect amongst the country’s journalist community.
Shehbaz said that while journalists also had great respect for the courts and the chief justice, the community is disheartened by nisar’s remarks about Naqi.
He said that Naqi was like a teacher to almost three generations of journalists, and that his life was full of struggle against oppression and dictatorial regimes in the country.
At this, Nisar said that the court had no ego, and acknowledged Naqi’s services and contributions.
“Do you want the court to include Naqi in the board of commissioners again?” the chief justice asked.
Shehbaz said that Naqi had no desire for any position.
Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights (JAC) took exception to the treatment meted out to Naqi in the Supreme Court.
In a statement, the JAC said that Naqi is widely respected and known for his untiring struggle for democracy, rule of law, and justice.
His contribution influenced a large number of journalists and human rights defenders in Pakistan and abroad.
The committee noted with concern that while Naqi gracefully showed respect towards the Supreme Court and offered an unconditional apology, he was denied a fair response and due respect by the court.
“We expect the honourable chief justice to publicly show respect to Naqi as this will send out a positive message to the public at large,” the statement added.
Nisar had taken suo motu notice of resignation by Punjab Healthcare Commission chairman, retired justice Amer Raza Khan, following the alleged humiliation he faced during the first meeting of the board.
Following an order by the chief justice, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid and all members of the board, including Naqi, had appeared before the court.
“How dare you disrespect Justice Khan and force him to resign?” Nisar had angrily asked Naqi.
Naqi, however, rejected the impression and requested that the chief justice listen to his point of view.
“I am 20 years older to you. Let me explain my position,” said the journalist.
Nisar, however, directed the security to accompany Naqi out of the court.
“Why should I leave? I have been elected to the board. I should be given a chance of hearing,” Naqi responded.
At this, the chief justice said that the board stood dissolved, and warned Naqi that he risked being issued a contempt of court notice if he did not apologise for his conduct.
Naqi tendered an apology, and security officials accompanied him out of the court.
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