Press Freedom

Court Orders Bank to Freeze Digital News Company’s Account

Peshawar: A local court has instructed a private bank to freeze the official account of a digital news company due to a damages lawsuit in favor of a senior journalist.

The court directed the attachment of accounts belonging to Saar Digital Private, which operates Lok Sujag, and its CEO, Syed Tahir Mehdi Zaidi.

One bank has complied with the court’s order, while another is yet to do so. The next hearing is scheduled for April 3, following an execution petition by the journalist, Ghulam Dastageer.

In December 2023, the court issued a Rs100 million decree in favor of the journalist after the defendant failed to appear despite repeated notices.

The journalist seeks Rs10 million for contract violations and Rs90 million for baseless allegations leading to mental distress.

He claims to have suffered mental trauma and ongoing medical issues. He holds a master’s in journalism and has served various media organizations and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

He started as a freelancer with Saar Digital Private Limited before becoming a staff member in October 2021 and later being promoted to Editor-North in November 2022.

The plaintiff’s lawyer, Inayatur Rehman, argues that his client’s performance was never questioned until February 2023 when the defendant raised concerns, promptly addressed by the plaintiff.

On April 3, 2023, just before the plaintiff was to travel to London for a journalism fellowship, he was terminated via email, causing extreme stress and health issues upon arrival in London. This led to frequent visits to clinics and hospitals there.

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