— Shehryar Chattha expresses guilt over channel’s move for running ‘character assassination’ campaign against PFA DG
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday accepted an unconditional apology offered by the owners of GNN news channel for making a “sifarshi” call to the top judge.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar who heard the case filed by Punjab Food Authority (PFA) Director General (DG) Muhammad Usman claiming that the news channel owned by Gourmet group ran a “character assassination” campaign against him after PFA declared the company’s ice cream and frozen desserts “unfit for human consumption”.
As the hearing went underway, the top judge expressed his annoyance over receiving a phone call by the group – late at night – presumably to request the CJP to show leniency to the group.
The owners Zulqarnain Chattha and Shehryar Chattha appeared before the court on the top judge’s order and apologised for “making a sifarishi call”.
“Do you think courts run on sifarish?” the chief justice asked.
“Your [company’s] ice cream was substandard, it caused liver disease,” said the chief justice.
“When the food authority took action, you ran a character assassination campaign against the DG,” the top judge added.
Shehryar expressed guilt over the channel’s move and said that “it was a mistake made by the subordinate staff,” adding that “we will act on whatever orders that are issued by the court”.
Moreover, CJP Nisar also reminded the owners’ that earlier samples of the bottled water sold by the group were found to be unsatisfactory; to which Shehryar assured the chief justice that necessary action had been taken and guidelines issued by the food authority were being implemented by the group.
Following this, PFA DG then told the court “that the authority had sent the ice cream samples to a laboratory recommended by the Gourmet group. The lab results showed that the ice cream could cause liver disease in consumers”.
He further claimed that “the media did not highlight the poor performance of major food companies like Gourmet because they sold advertisements to them”.
“Instead they [media outlets] start a campaign against the food authority,” DG Usman said.
“We will issue an order for media outlets to publish [PFA’s] press releases exactly as they are issued,” the PFA DG declared.
In addition to that, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s legal adviser assured the chief justice that the body will ensure that the orders issued by the court are implemented.
CJP Nisar then accepted the unconditional apology offered to the court by the Gourmet group owners and ordered them to broadcast an apology to the food authority during prime time within two days.