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FINDINGS OF INQUIRY REPORT OF LEAKAGE OF FULL COURT VIDEO FOOTAGE DATED 11.12.2013

Dated: 31-May-2014

Following are the findings of inquiry report of leakage of Full Court video footage dated 11.12.2013:-

(i) The TV channels were not allowed to make video coverage of the Full Court Reference held on the retirement of Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the then Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan, as such, none of the TV channels invited their camera crew inside Courtroom No. 1.

(ii) As per statements of Mr. Khalid Azeem of SAMAA NEWS TV and Mr. Shahid Hussain Kamboyo, Public Relations Officer of the Supreme Court, Ch. Abdul Hameed, 2-3 days before the Full Court Reference, had told both of them that footage of the Full Court Reference would be privately arranged and the footage would be given to all the TV channels.

(iii) The private arrangement of footage of the Full Court Reference rested in the hands of Ch. Abdul Hameed and the video so made did reach Mr. Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui of GEO NEWS TV courtesy Ch. Abdul Hameed with an understanding that it would be given to all the TV channels, however, Mr. Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui withheld it and unjustifiably aired the same as exclusive. The latter’s act caused unnecessary embarrassment to the Court administration.

(iv) Ch. Abdul Hameed failed to ensure that the footage was simultaneously given to all the TV channels. There appears mismanagement and lack of proper coordination on his part in the matter, even though later on he took certain steps, including establishing contact with Mr. Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui in whose possession the footage was. Had he ensured that the video made by the private cameraman was handed over to Mr. Shahid Hussain Kamboyo, Public Relations Officer, or any other official of the Court, the footage would have been given to all the channels simultaneously as per past practice, and no cause of complaint arisen to anyone in this regard.

(v) It needs to be appreciated that the complainant journalists abided by the media advisories conveyed to them by the Public Relations Officer to the effect that TV channels were not allowed video coverage of the event and only still photographs inside the Courtroom were allowed to be made by the State media photographers. All of them were performing their duties diligently and honestly by remaining present at the venue of the Reference and transmitted reports to their channels. Since TV channels were not allowed to make video coverage of the event, therefore, as law-abiding citizens, and remaining true to the ethics of their profession, they just made no attempt to get the footage by hook or crook and even refrained from exploring the possibility of getting it at the cost of violating the media advisories conveyed to them by the Public Relations Officer of the Court. It was not a case where any Court official (Public Relations Officer or anyone else) had called for the journalists to give them footage of the Reference and the complainant journalists had failed to approach him and receive the footage. Rather, one among the lot got the footage with the understanding that it would be shared with other channels as per past practice, but he unjustifiably withheld it and proceeded to lay the claim of exclusivity. In this view of the matter, it was not fair to have accused the complainant journalists of slackness or negligence in the performance of their professional duties. The airing of the Full Court Reference by GEO TV as exclusive unnecessarily embarrassed the Court administration and the act was not in line with the stance of Mr. Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui that he and his media group believe in the respect and dignity of the institution because if that were so, he ought not to have aired the footage as exclusive in presence of the media advisories in place.

As regards Ch. Abdul Hameed, it has been found that since he had given out to Mr. Khalid Azeem of SAMAA News TV as well as Mr. Shahid Hussain Kamboyo, Public Relations Officer of the Supreme Court much before the Reference that the footage would be provided to all the channels, it could not be said that he intended to discriminate any of the channels in providing the footage. Be that as it may, he remained unable to achieve the target he had set for himself. In his explanation, he has stated that he had been working with the former HCJ as Staff Officer/Secretary for a long period and had been performing duties assigned to him as per direction of the then HCJ. As regards the footage issue, he has said that on the day of Full Court Reference, he had multiple pressing engagements and the issue of footage had arisen due to competition between different media channels; no channels was allowed to make the footage; and only a private photographer (Bhatti Studio) was arranged by him for photography of HCJ and his family; that he did not know how GEO TV managed to get/make the said footage, but when he was apprised of the issue, he telephonically asked the GEO correspondent that he had no exclusive right in respect of footage and that he should also share the same with other channels as well. The chain of events that has come on record in the course of the inquiry does suggest that the footage went into the hands of GEO correspondent courtesy Ch. Abdul Hameed and the explanation furnished by him on this course is not much convincing. At the same time, what goes in his favour is, as is evident from the statements of Mr. Khalid Azeem of SAMAA News TV and Mr. Shahid Hussain Kamboyo, Public Relations Officer of Supreme Court, that while private arrangement of photography/footage was put in place by him, he also had given out to both of them that the footage would be given to all the channels at the same time. In this view of the matter, a warning may be issued to him to remain careful in future.

As regards the airing of footage by GEO as exclusive, since it has been found that there was no occasion for such a claim, the footage ought not to have been aired as exclusive. However, being a first reported act of omission or commission on the part of the GEO’s Special Correspondent, if approved, no further action including a reference to the concerned forum under the law or any other appropriate action, may be taken qua him.

As regards the grievance of the complainant journalists, it has been established and their position vindicated. In the circumstances, they may be informed that the footage or any other press material to be released by the Court offices would be provided to all the media channels simultaneously as per past practice.

 
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