Altaf media blackout case halts as MQM counsel Asma refuses to tender apology

Islamabad - She said she did not accept it whole-heartedly. But she said she "apologised orally out of respect for the dignity of the institution (judiciary)".

By Our Correspondent

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Published: Sun 28 Feb 2016, 4:19 PM

The petition against media blackout of MQM chief Altaf Hussain has hit a deadlock in the Lahore High Court after a counsel for the party refused to submit a written apology for her critical remarks about the bench's order banning coverage of Altaf Hussain's activities in both electronic and print media.
When court took up the case, the petitioners' counsel alleged that advocate Asma Jahangir, counsel for the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, had spoken of the sub judice matter in a "contemptuous" manner during a TV programme.
Advocates Azhar Siddique and Aftab Virk played a recording of the television programme before the crowded court. They said it was a usual practice of Asma Jahangir to mock orders of the courts.
When asked for an explanation, Asma Jahangir expressed her regret and tendered an oral apology.
Justice Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, who heads the bench, asked the counsel to submit a written apology - which Asma Jahangir refused. She said she did not accept it whole-heartedly. But she said she "apologised orally out of respect for the dignity of the institution (judiciary)". She also expressed her distrust of the bench.
The bench rose and resumed hearing after half an hour with the stance of the MQM's counsel unchanged. At this Justice Naqvi said to Asma Jahangir: "You have double standards . You are committing contempt of court and you should submit an apology in writing." Asma Jahangir, however, again refused to submit written apology.
The heated dialogues between the bench and the counsel provoked a chanting match between the lawyers present in the court.
Lahore High Court Bar Association's president Pir Masood Chishti requested Justice Naqvi to adjourn hearing to avoid any chaos in the court. The bench deferred hearing till March 28.
Earlier at one point, Justice Mazahar Naqvi addressed MQM Senator Attiqur Rehman and said that let there be no misconception that protests and hunger strikes would influence the court.
Sources close to Asma Jahangir said she would request the chief justice of the LHC to transfer the case to another judge, "as the best possible way out of this situation".
One of the petitioners Abdullah Malik filed an application with Old Anarkali police for registration of a case against the lawyers and leaders of the MQM for chanting slogans against the judiciary and trying to malign it.
The petitions were filed in the wake of Altaf Hussain's speeches against state institutions including army and rangers. The bench had on September 7, 2015 ordered a complete blackout of MQM's chief activities in both electronic and print media. Justice Mazhar Iqbal Sidhu and Justice Erum Sajjad Gul are the other members of the full bench. -
Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Barrister Saif and other leaders of the MQM were also present on the occasion.

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