The Lahore High Court rejected a claim attributed to Khadija Siddiqui — who survived a brutal knife attack at the hands of her fellow student in Lahore two years ago — that she was called into the chambers of a judge for entering into a compromise with her accused attacker, Shah Hussain.
A press release issued by the LHC registrar said “various speculations are being aired in electronic media/social media and published in print media” due to a “news item” regarding the judgement issued by Justice Naeem on Shah Hussain’s appeal against the five-year sentence approved for him.
Through a short order, Justice Naeem had on Monday acquitted Hussain, who was earlier convicted for attempted murder of Khadija, of all charges after accepting his appeal against the sentence handed to him by a sessions court.
The registrar referred to an interview earlier this week in which, according to the statement, Khadija claimed that “she was called upon by the honourable judge in his chambers; whereby she was persuaded to enter into [a] compromise with the petitioner/convict [Hussain] in presence of his father”.
Although the LHC press release does not say exactly which interview is being referred to, while appearing on local TV Channel show, Khadija was asked to confirm the claim that she was asked by a sessions judge whether she would be open to compromise. Khadija did so, saying the judge — whom she did not name — during the case proceedings had asked her in his chamber whether she would be open to reconciliation with the accused but that she refused the offer.
“She has further speculated that the honourable judge might have been persuaded by the Governor Punjab [Malik Rafiq Rajwana] to pass the judgement of acquittal in favour of the petitioner/convict,” the registrar added.
The LHC registrar said the news items based on Khadija’s claims are “squarely concocted, frivolous and are being aired/published in electronic/social and print media with a malicious attempt to malign the judiciary as an institution”.
“This campaign is not against the honourable judge in isolation rather it is part of the campaign which is being sponsored to malign the judiciary as a whole,” the statement said. The registrar condemned the speculations and warned of legal action “against the delinquent”.
The LHC registrar directed electronic media outlets to air an apology during prime time for airing the “frivolous news item”. The print media, too, was directed to apologise by printing an apology “at front page of the newspaper within three days”.
The court registrar directed the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority and Press Council of Pakistan to submit compliance reports with regard to the apology.
LHCBA passes resolution by suspected attacker’s father
The Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) unanimously passed a resolution tabled by Syed Tanveer Ahmed Hashmi, the father of the accused attacker, Shah Hussain.
In the resolution, Hashmi regretted that Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had taken a suo motu notice of the acquittal of his son by the LHC. He stated that since Khadija had the option of approaching the Supreme Court against the LHC ruling, there was no need for the CJP to have taken notice of the matter based on “propaganda” on social and electronic media.
The resolution requested the Bar to demand that the apex court uses its suo motu powers only in the most important cases of public interest. Taking suo motu action on “cases of personal nature” based only on media hype goes against the spirit of Article 184(3) of the Constitution.
The resolution, the contents of which will be placed before the CJP by LHCBA, also demands that a full bench of the top court devises clear rules regarding suo motu notices and that “propaganda” against judges on social/electronic and print media be immediately stopped.