Shahid Masood taken off-air for three months for lying in Zainab case

  • CJP asks TV anchorperson to submit written apology in court
  • CJP and anchorperson ‘negotiate’ duration of suspension of TV show

LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered a three-month ban on anchorperson Dr Shahid Masood’s talk show and asked the anchorperson to submit a written apology to the court.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing suo moto notice of the anchorperson’s claims in Zainab case.

The news anchor offered the court an unconditional apology “from the depths of his heart” for being unable to prove his startling allegations against the convicted rapist and murderer of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur. Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, however, dismissed the verbal apology, saying: “I will not forgive you without punishment”.

“I have been hearing about the ‘depths of your heart’ for a while now,” Justice Nisar remarked.

The CJP then told Masood to “suggest a punishment for himself or the court will ban him for six months”.

When Masood replied that he was ready to be taken off-air for two months, Justice Nisar suggested six months. After back-and-forth arguments, the bench decided to suspend his news show for three months.

“I don’t know what you think of the courts in Pakistan,” said the CJP while addressing Masood. “Let it be clear that either the courts have evolved or maybe I have changed.”

“This is the majesty of constitution and law,” remarked Justice Nisar.

At the outset of the hearing, the chief justice reprimanded Dr Masood for “ridiculing” a federal law officer in his TV talk show following the previous hearing on March 12.

Expressing displeasure, the chief justice said, “How dare Shahid Masood mock my law officer.”

“It is possible we initiate contempt proceedings against him,” the chief justice remarked.

The bench then called for a short break, asking the court office to get an electronic screen projector to view his recent news programme in which he was seen supposedly mocking the state counsel.

CJP Nisar remarked that he would himself frame contempt charges against the anchorperson after watching the programme.

After the short break, the CJP ordered a ban on the show and directed Masood’s counsel, Shah Khawar, to make his client understand, in his own language, that the court knows how to get itself respected as well.

In the previous hearing, the top court observed that TV anchorperson Shahid Masood will be punished as per the law, while dismissing the anchorperson’s response and remarked that time for apologising is over.

In his programme on the private news channel, Masood had claimed that convicted rapist and murderer of seven-year-old Zainab, Imran Ali, maintained over 37 bank accounts, mostly foreign currency denominated, with transactions in dollars, euros and pounds sterling.

Masood had requested the chief justice, prime minister and army chief to take notice of these facts, claiming that the rapist cum murderer was not deranged or an insane person or a simpleton.

During the suo moto hearing of the Zainab case, Masood had handed over to the CJP two names written on a folded paper of ‘influential’ people who, he claimed, were behind an international racket running a child pornography ring.

During the hearing, On March 7, the top court had warned Masood to submit his objections to Joint Investigation Team (JIT) report laying bogus claims regarding Imran Ali.

On March 1, the JIT submitted its report to the apex court and dismissed all allegations made by the anchorperson regarding the high-profile case.


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