Defamation and Libel Cases in Pakistan – It’s just the beginning by Ahmed Iqbalabadi

 

We at Let Us Build Pakistan have been highlighting the way some elements in the media have been targeting the PPP, its leadership and people who are close to its leadership for the last two and half years. Whenever the PPP is in power, we hear the same stories of corruption and malpractices by the people at the top. Pakistan’s President, Asif Zardari has been the favorite punching bag for a media trial for the last 22 years. Stories of him kidnapping an expatriate Pakistani and extorting money by planting a bomb on his leg to duty evasions, he has faced all.

Our friends at the Jang Group have been vociferously running stories of corruption, nepotism and malpractices in organizations like Pakistan Steel, Pakistan International Airlines, Pakistan Railways, Trading Corporation and many more that somehow or the other depict a breakdown of executive powers and rampant corruption in the country. And all that leads to Asif Zardari. After publication of these investigative stories where intricate details from telephone calls, vehicle number plates and locations of meetings are mentioned, we see a Suo-Moto notice by our Chief Justice. And so the trial begins…

On the other hand, the people who are alleged to be involved in corruption are either removed from their positions, handcuffed, humiliated without being proven guilty. Pakistan’s defamation and libel laws have not been tested much. Some people send a legal notice to the publishers but then not much happens. Not many follow it up by going to the courts and actually filing a suit against the publishers and reporters.

In the last one month, we have covered the Defamation notice and law suit filed by Fauzia Wahab against Ansar Abbasi which has now also been added with a contempt of court notice against Jang and The News which comes up for hearing on 28th June, 2010. Now, Riaz Laljee – a businessman and a good friend of President Zardari has filed defamation and libel cases against the Jang Group to the tune of Rs 10 billion as damages. He has not only made Jang, The News and Geo TV respondents but also Shaheen Sehbai, Anjum Niaz, Kamran Khan and Talat Aslam as they made the programs and reports against him and his businesses. Jang supremo, Mir Shakil and other shareholders ie Mir Javed and Mir Ibrahim are also respondents.

These cases are a big test for the Defamation laws as responsibility is not yet a priority for our publication houses and TV channels. The damages amount of Rs. 200 million by Fauzia Wahab and Rs. 10 billion Riaz Laljee are not important, what is significant is that by taking the legal course of action, we will hopefully see an element of accountability amongst journalists, publishers and TV channels going forward.

Can we see a situation where reporters who break such corruption stories be made part of the prosecution by the judiciary when the accountability begins against public figures? It may just be a logical solution of bringing to justice those who are accused and those who profit by publishing against them.

 Riaz Laljee asks for Rs10bn damages from Jang Group

http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=29648

Friday, June 25, 2010

By our correspondent

KARACHI: Riaz Laljee and his company Abbas Steel has filed seven libel and defamation cases against the Jang Group of Newspapers, including Daily Jang, The News and Geo TV, demanding a total of Rs10 billion in damages.

The cases by Mr Laljee are in addition to a Rs200 million case filed by PPP MNA and Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab against Editor Investigations Ansar Abbasi and The News and Jang Group.

The journalists who have been served with notices in these cases by Mr Laljee include Kamran Khan, Shaheen Sehbai, Talat Aslam and Anjum Niaz besides producers and owners of the Jang Group.

The cases filed by Mr Laljee against the Jang Group include: Case No 1: In the High Court of Sindh at Karachi (Civil Original Jurisdiction —-Suit No 746 of 2010).

1) Abbas Steel Industries (PVT) LTD, 2) Abbas Engineering Industries LTD, 3) Abbas Steel Group (PVT) Ltd, 4) Al-Abbas Steels (Pvt) Ltd Vs 1) Kamran Khan, 2) Junaid Mumtaz (Senior Producer), 3) Mir Ibrahim-ur-Rehman.

Suit for recovery of Rs2,000 million as general damage for defamation under Civil Procedure Code

Filing Date: 14/5/2010

Reason for suit: The plaintiffs have been named in relation to alleged losses of Pakistan Steel Mills as if the plaintiffs are the culprits in Kamran Khan Show run on December 14, 2009.

Prayer: The defendants be ordered to pay severally and jointly damages of Rs500 million to each of the plaintiffs.

Case No. 2: In the High Court of Sindh at Karachi (Suit No 677 of 2010) Riaz Laljee Vs 1) Shaheen Sehbai, 2) Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, 3) Mir Javed-ur-Rehman, 4) The News International

Suit for recovery of Rs1,000 million as general/special damage for defamation under Civil Procedure Code.

Filing Date: 3/5/2010.

Reason for suit: Article in The News dated December 4, 2009 titled “The unwritten script after President Zardari”

Prayer: The defendants be ordered to pay severally and jointly general damages of Rs500 million and special/compensatory damages of Rs500 million to the plaintiff. Cost of the suit be paid. Defendants be restrained from maligning and publishing derogatory remarks.

This suit is continuation of a legal notice served to the defendants on 22/01/2010.

Case No 3: In the High Court of Sindh at Karachi (Civil Original Jurisdiction —-Suit No 968 of 2010). Riaz Laljee Vs 1) Kamran Khan, 2) Junaid Mumtaz (Senior Producer), 3) Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, 4) Mir Javed-ur-Rehman, 5) Mir Ibrahim-ur-Rehman

Suit for recovery of Rs1,000 million as general/special damage for defamation under Civil Procedure Code.

Reason for suit: The plaintiffs have been named in relation to alleged losses of Pakistan Steel Mills as if the plaintiffs are the culprits in Kamran Khan Show run on January 11, 2010.

Prayer: The defendants be ordered to pay severally and jointly general damages of Rs500 million and special/compensatory damages of Rs500 million to the plaintiff. Cost of the suit be paid. Defendants be restrained from maligning and publishing derogatory remarks.

Case No 4: In the High Court of Sindh at Karachi (Civil Original Jurisdiction —-Suit No 967 of 2010) Riaz Laljee Vs 1)Kamran Khan, 2) Junaid Mumtaz (Senior Producer), 3) Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, 4) Mir Javed-ur-Rehman, 5) Mir Ibrahim-ur-Rehman

Suit for recovery of Rs1,000 million as general/special damage for defamation under Civil Procedure Code.

Reason for suit: The plaintiffs have been named in relation to alleged losses of Pakistan Steel Mills as if the plaintiffs are the culprits in Kamran Khan Show run on December 24, 2009. Kamran Khan, with a determined course of action, has been naming the plaintiff again and again by maliciously focusing the talk against the plaintiff and Abbas Steel Group. Kamran Khan has wrongly stated that FIRs have been registered against four directors of Abbas Steel Group.

Prayer: The defendants be ordered to pay severally and jointly general damages of Rs500 million and special/compensatory damages of Rs500 million to the plaintiff. Cost of the suit be paid. Defendants be restrained from maligning and publishing derogatory remarks.

A legal notice was also issued in this connection on 10/02/2010.

Case No. 5: In the High Court of Sindh at Karachi (Civil Original Jurisdiction —-Suit No. 970 of 2010) Riaz Laljee Vs 1) Kamran Khan, 2) Junaid Mumtaz (Senior Producer), 3) Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, 4) Mir Javed-ur-Rehman, 5) Mir Ibrahim-ur-Rehman.

Reason for suit: The plaintiffs have been named in relation to alleged losses of Pakistan Steel Mills as if the plaintiffs are the culprits in Kamran Khan Show run on December 14, 2009. Kamran Khan, with a determined course of action, has been naming the plaintiff again and again by maliciously focusing the talk against the plaintiff and Abbas Steel Group. Kamran Khan has wrongly stated that FIRs have been registered against four directors of Abbas Steel Group. (The same has been cited in previous suit except the date).

Prayer: The defendants be ordered to pay severally and jointly general damages of Rs500 million and special/compensatory damages of Rs500 million to the plaintiff. Cost of the suit be paid. Defendants be restrained from maligning and publishing derogatory remarks.

A legal notice was also issued in this connection on 08/02/2010.

Case No. 6: In the High Court of Sindh at Karachi (Suit No. 1047 of 2010).

Riaz Laljee Vs 1) Shaheen Sehbai 2) Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman 3) Talat Aslam 4) The News International.

Suit for recovery of Rs2 billion as general/special damage for defamation under Civil Procedure Code.

Filing Date: 31/5/2010.

Reason for suit: Article in The News dated June 16, 2010 titled “A case of immense interest, profound mystery” by Shaheen Sehbai.

Plaintiff was portrayed with a negative picture, which was the only aim of the article.

Prayer: The article be declared as defamatory, defendants be ordered to pay Rs2,000 million as damages and restrained to abstain from such exercises in future.

Case No. 7: In the High Court of Sindh at Karachi (Suit No. 1046 of 2010).

1. Riaz Laljee 2) Abbas Steel Industries (PVT) LTD 3) Abbas Engineering Industries LTD 4) Abbas Steel Group (PVT) Ltd 5) Al-Abbas Steels (Pvt) Ltd Vs 1) Anjum Niaz, 2) Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, 3) Shaheen Sehbai, 4) Talat Aslam, 5) The News International.

Suit for recovery of Rs2 billion as general/special damage for defamation under Civil Procedure Code.

Filing Date: 18/6/2010

Reason for suit: Article in The News dated June 16, 2010 titled “Looking for Lithium” by Anjum Niaz.

Plaintiff was accused to inflict huge losses to Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM). The writer discussed a TV show in which the anchorperson alleged Riaz Laljee of inflicting a loss of Rs20 billion to the Pakistan Steel Mills. It was written that as the owner of the Abbas Steel Group, Rial Laljee, literally ran the show by grabbing all the production and funneling the produce to this empire. Chairman Moen Aftab danced to his tunes, even stopping all kinds of production to only make special items ordered by Riaz Laljee and sold to him on 35 percent discount.

Prayer: The article be declared as defamatory, defendants be ordered to pay Rs2,000 million as damages and restrained to abstain from such exercises in future.

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