ISLAMABAD: Jang-Geo Group Chief Executive and Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman on Monday requested Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar to take suo motu notice of the matter of suspension of channels belonging to the media house.
A three-member bench of the apex court, led by Justice Nisar, resumed hearing a case pertaining to salaries of Geo News’ employees.
Appearing in court, the Jang-Geo Group editor-in-chief said the media house’s business “was being looted at gunpoint”, at which the chief justice said they had stopped taking suo motu notices.
The apex court also formed a committee over non-payment of salaries to Geo News employees, directing it to present a report in three days.
As the Jang-Geo Group editor-in-chief appeared before the court, the chief justice said you have a huge media house but the employees of your organisation have not been paid salaries, inquiring Mr Rehman about the reason for the non-payment.
Mr Rehman said that he felt embarrassment over the issue and sought apology from his colleagues over the matter. “It is my responsibility to timely pay salaries to employees.”
The Jang-Geo Group editor-in-chief said they had yet to receive payments from the government for advertisements, while the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had stopped issuing adverts.
“The media house has also been off air, however, it has now been restored,” he said, adding that the organisation faced losses as well.
At this, Justice Nisar asked the Jang-Geo Group editor-in-chief to inform the court about the places where the TV channels of his media house were off air. “You have the license. A channel cannot be forced off the air anywhere.”
He said the KP government could not be forced if it does not give advertisements.
“A restriction was only imposed on adverts up to the extent of pictures. No government has been asked to not issue advertisements.
“If your payments have not been cleared then this matter could be looked into,” said the chief justice.
“Let’s look at this matter with regard to humanity. How would the employees run their households? You should also facilitate your children; your organisation is the largest [in the country],” Justice Nisar said.
“[We] wanted to show you something but we are not showing it,” he remarked. “If the judiciary is given respect, it responds in kind. The judiciary is not against anyone.”
Justice Umar Ata Bandiyal said if the government had not cleared the dues, then it could be inquired about the matter.
“What is the monthly salary bill of Jang and Geo?” asked Justice Aijazul Ahsan, to which Mr Rehman replied, “It is not in my knowledge, but Geo’s bill is estimated to be around Rs250 million.”
“What is the monthly revenue of Geo News?” Justice Ahsan inquired further.
At this, the Jang-Geo Group editor-in-chief said, “How would I pay off salaries if there was no income? But we have cleared 78 per cent dues.”
The chief justice further remarked that it was not possible for them to give 3-month time period for payment of salaries.
The apex court formed a five-member committee headed by senior journalist Hamid Mir to resolve the matter. The committee includes Geo News’ reporters, Qamber Zaidi and Waqar Satti, and two members of the administration.
The court ordered the committee to submit its report within three days.