A “trial” that was watched most eagerly. The Supreme Court taking on Dr Shahid Masood in response to his scandalous set of revelations regarding the tragic Kasur rape-murder case.
Initially, parents, already quite perturbed by the case, were scared senseless by the revelations. Depraved pedophiles are lurking about in all corners of the world, but here was the doctor talking about not some loony here or there but an organised ring making and selling child porn all over the world.
The doctor also famously said that the eventually apprehended perpetrator, Imran, was in on the ring and had 37 international bank accounts.
The apex court took notice of this and started doing its thing. Investigators were assigned and, only slightly later, it started becoming clear that Masood had pretty much pulled all of this out of thin air.
Gradually, the coverage started getting a comic aspect. People were tuning in to get their laughs and the channels seemed to be covering it like that as well. Which was a little inappropriate considering the initial subject matter.
In his josh-e-khitabat (how to translate? Exuberance of description?) Dr Shahid Masood had made things tough for himself. Like saying he should be hanged if his report was wrong.
The court itself certainly upped the ante. You cannot imagine what will be done to you if the report turns out to be false.
Well, after the whole works, one has to say the punishment was pretty imaginable. Merely three months off the air. Meh.
Reports say that the courts wanted a longer ban, the anchor obviously wanted a shorter ban. Apparently, they haggled over the issue, as if it were crockery at an itwaaar bazaar. The three month ban was the result of a na-tumhara-na-hamara!
The decision itself is being criticised by many as being “too lenient.” Though that is a sentiment that I share myself, I realise that it isn’t a well-thought-out plea. What exactly was the public expecting here? And how is the ban not the appropriate retribution?
There’s the whole “ishte’aal phelana” approach but if the courts take that route, it would affect the news media as a whole and one doesn’t want for that to be an option for governments to have to clamp down on critical journalists.
Such anchors are always going to be around. Unless they say something libelous against an individual, one wonders whether these are cognisable offenses at all. Perhaps, much like astrology, numerology and homoeopathy, individuals like Shahid Masood should be thought of as a tax on stupid people. Much like the US’ Alex “They’re turning the frogs gay” Jones.
Obviously, no one should be allowed to spout lies even if they are not being taken to court by individuals for slander. But should it have been the court?
The courts should not have gotten involved in the first place. This was the sort of stuff that Pemra is made for. In general, the Pakistani judiciary at all levels, not just the apex court, gets involved in matters that should at least initially be handled by other bodies. This causes a considerable amount of backlog in the courts all over the country. The decisions of the aforementioned bodies should be justiciable, but the courts shouldn’t get involved other than that.