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On Monday, the 24th of July, executives of the Jang group along with the reporter Ahmed Noorani submitted their defense to the Supreme Court on the charge of Contempt of Court. In the defense, Mr. Noorani admitted contacting the judges of the Panamagate hearing upon receiving no reply from the court registrar earlier in July.

Read more: Is Panama gate a foreign conspiracy to derail Pakistan? Part I

The allegations

On the 10th of July, Mr. Noorani had published a story in The News titled “Panama JIT ‘doesn’t find PM guilty,’ but his sons”. However, he had made this assertion before the JIT report had been made public and had thus fabricated the principle argument of the article which was the JIT found PM Nawaz Sharif innocent.

On the 12th of July, Mr. Noorani issued an apology in the same newspaper. He stated that his statement of the innocence of the PM in the JIT was incorrect and that his sources had proved wrong. However, he rejected all claims of deliberately falsifying the story and dismissed the article as a mistake. He concluded his article by saying ‘Today in this difficult time, I am thankful to the support of my colleagues and friends, and resolve that I will do my best to re-win the trust of my readers. Human beings make errors and I am no exception’.

Read more: Opposition buoyant as the Panama judgment is reserved

The reporter had called the Supreme court Justice late in the evening on July 3rd and 4th in order to inquire about the case. Reportedly, the judge responded by saying that he does not reveal information about cases in this manner. The 3-judge bench investigating the issue had stated ““How can a reporter dare approach a member of this court?”

Read more: Panama-Gate: Circumventing accountability and disrespecting the rule of law

The defense

Yesterday, Mr. Noorani along with the owners of the Jang and Geo media group, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and Mir Javed-ur-Rahman submitted their replies to the SC. In his reply, Mr. Noorani stated that he had forwarded his questions to the registrar via Whatsapp but only contacted the SC judge upon receiving no reply.

The Mir brothers stated that they express regret over the entire ordeal, and pleaded the court to take back the contempt of court notices which were issued to them. They further went on to say that the responsibility for the false news also lies on other media channels as they had published the news taking it in the wrong context.

The hearing for the case is set to begin today.

Read more: Panamagate and what it tells us about ourselves?

Media responsibility

It is very important that at this turning point for Pakistan’s democratic system, our media channels and outlets ensure the correct and truthful reporting of the news. Wrongful facts and figures are not only detrimental to the quality of information available to citizens, but it also affects the political and judicial decisions taken by the people in office. It is good that the SC is ensuring increased accountability in the Pakistani media.

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