Islamabad: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Friday formed a committee to probe a TV news channel's controversial interview with real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain, who has acknowledged paying Rs 342.5 million to the Chief Justice's son to influences cases in the apex court.
A meeting of all judges of the Supreme Court, chaired by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, watched behind the scenes footage that showed two anchors discussing questions with the tycoon and coaching him on answers for the interview.
The two-hour interview was aired live on Wednesday and is unclear who leaked the behind the scenes footage totalling about 30 minutes.
Besides constituting a two-judge committee to probe Hussain's interview with Dunya TV channel, the judges directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Chairman to submit a report on the issue.
The committee, comprising Justices Jawwad Khwaja and Khilji Arif Hussain will give recommendations for further action, if required.
The judges expressed "faith and determination in maintaining and further strengthening the independence of the judiciary" to ensure free, fair and impartial dispensation of justice.
The Chief Justice questioned the PEMRA Chairman about the role of PEMRA about "preventing the telecast of contemptuous and scandalous material against the judiciary".
The Chief Justice observed that "whatever conspiracy against the judiciary was hatched, had been unfolded".
He asked the PEMRA Chairman about action being taken against TV programmes that commented on the judiciary.
"Don't you see what has been happening on TV on a daily basis," he questioned. He contended that under the Constitution, such things could not even be discussed in parliament.
A note submitted by the Supreme Court's Registrar to the judges said: "From this footage, it appears that the whole show was pre-planned in which planted questions were asked and the interviewer coached in giving answers.
It is clearly indicative of a pre-planned conspiracy against the judiciary to scandalise the court, prejudice the determination of pending matters in the court and bring the court/judge into hatred, ridicule or contempt."
Chief Justice Chaudhry, who was restored in 2009 after being deposed by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, has come under a cloud after his son Arsalan Iftikhar was accused of accepting payments from the tycoon to influence cases in the apex court.
In recent months, the top judge has also been accused of bias against the ruling Pakistan People's Party and its chief, President Asif Ali Zardari.
The Supreme Court took suo moto notice of the payments allegedly made by Hussain to the Chief Justice's son.
The top judge recused himself from the case after facing criticism from legal experts and political parties.
A two-judge bench yesterday asked the Attorney General to take strict action under the law against the Chief Justice's son, the tycoon and his son-in-law.
First Published: Friday, June 15, 2012, 14:28