LAHORE:The Lahore High Court yesterday asked Mutahida Qaumi Movement to file affidavit on behalf of their chief Altaf Hussain that he would not speak against integrity of the state and it would withdraw its order which banned coverage of his activities in both print and electronic media.

A full bench headed by Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi heard the case. MQM leader Farooq Sattar was also present there in the court. As the hearing commenced, Asma Jahangir appeared before the bench and argued that the ban on the coverage of activities of Altaf Hussain by media was unconstitutional. She argued it was against the Article 19-A of the Constitution.

On it, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi observed that Article 19-A gives right to access to information subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law. He remarked that there is no absolute liberty to this right. The judge also remarked that military is a constitutional institution of the country which deserves respect. The judge further said that they had no concerns with MQM and as they did not issue any notice to coordination committee of the party to dispel this impression that they took action against MQM.

Asma Jahangir asked the bench that many politicians issued statements against the country but they were not banned on which the bench responded that anybody can approach the court, if there is such incident, and the court will decide it in accordance with law. Asma further said that they can also fall prey of their own orders, on which Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi said that they passed the order very carefully and there is no illegality in it.

Abdullah Malik, one of the petitioners, was also present there against whom Asma said that she did not know him who is he and which civil society did he represent in the court. Abdullah Malik said he represented the civil society which did not receive dollars from abroad. On it, the bench asked Abdullah Malik to say sorry to Asma Jahangir and he said sorry to her.  The court asked the lawyers to submit affidavit on behalf of Altaf Hussain on which Farooq Sattar said that Altaf Hussain had said sorry in a number of interviews and he also withdrew his objectionable statements.

At this, the court asked the lawyers that they should make recordings of those interviews as part of the affidavit. At this Farooq Sattar said they would discuss with coordination committee of the party and would take any action in this regard. The court adjourned further hearing until Oct 2.

On Aug 31, the bench had banned coverage of Hussain’s activities in both print and electronic media for speaking against state institutions including Pakistan Army and Rangers.

After the adjournment of the case, a group of lawyers chanted slogans against Altaf Hussain, Asma Jahangir and Dr. Khalid Ranjha outside the courtroom.