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Supreme Court issues guidelines tightly restricting media coverage of ongoing judicial crisis

(PPF/IFEX) - The Supreme Court of Pakistan has issued guidelines on media coverage of the judicial proceedings relating to the presidential reference against Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

A statement issued by the Supreme Court on 9 May 2007 prohibited discussions, comments and write-ups "likely to interfere with the legal process, ridicule, scandalise or malign the court or any of its judges; or touching the merits of the case". The statement stressed that the reference against the Chief Justice was sub judice and warned that violations shall be dealt with under the law relating to contempt of court. The Supreme Court statement said the entry of media personnel to the courtrooms will be regulated and that they shall abide by the instructions or guidelines.

A separate press release issued by the Supreme Court said a mala fide campaign of making judges of the Supreme Court controversial is going on, in both electronic as well as print media.

The press releases gave a number of examples of media coverage as instances of a "mala fide vilification scheme launched by the vested interests" and an "attempt at scandalizing the Honourable Judge of the Supreme Court". The press release warned that such coverage was within the ambit of contempt of court law.

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