Days after the top court has decided that it is the sole prerogative of Chief Justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice in a matter, a three-member bench Monday summoned top brass of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, Islamabad police and other in a matter to harassment of journalists.
A three-member bench of Justice Ijazul Ahsan resumed hearing of a suo motu that top court’s Justice Qazi Faez Isa has taken in response to a plea of journalists. The others who have been summoned to appear before the court include Attorney General for Pakistan, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Advocate General and all the provincial advocate generals at the next hearing.
The bench also sought a report from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) registrar regarding the status of pending cases of media persons. After issuing these directives.
During the proceedings, Justice Ahsan observed that the court will intervene for the protection of journalists’ rights saying the court has endorsed the stance of journalists in their salary matters, adding that the court is supposed to indulge in any politics. A member of the bench Justice Munib Akhtar expressed constitutional provisions of Pakistan providing guarantees to freedom of press in the country, citing constitutions of USA, Germany and India he observed all these constitutions also provide guarantees to freedom of press.
The Bench Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed remarked that journalists are supposed to do journalism instead of politics saying decorum of journalism and freedom of expression must be protected in the realm of decency.
One of the former presidents of the PAS Abdul Qayoom Siddiqui, Asad Toor and Amir Mir withdrew their applications in the matter upon which Justice Qazi Faez Isa has taken suo motu. Justice Muneeb Akhtar remarked the court will conduct hearing of the matter whereas Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed that the court would have to determine whether anyone’s fundamental right has been infringed, saying media is the conscience and voice of the nation.
It is pertinent to mention that that earlier, a divisional bench of the top court led by Justice Qazi Faez Isa has taken suo-motu notice on August 20 while entertaining the application of incumbent and former presidents of Press Association of Supreme Court (PAS) application against harassment of media persons. The division bench had also summoned several government functionaries on August 26 before it.
However, on August 23, a five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, “held in abeyance” the two-member bench order.
The bench had said that the order deviated from the established practice of entertaining the suo motu notices. The top court also held that the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) was the “sole authority by and through whom the suo motu jurisdiction can be, and is to be, invoked/assumed” under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.
Later, the bench adjourned the hearing till September 15.
The writer heads a leading news wire service ‘The Law Today Pakistan’ commonly known as TLTP. He has a special focus on news relating to superior courts adjudication, access to right of information, civil, political, social and economic rights under the approach that existing cyber regime realization ensures procedural fairness in administrative law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org