ISLAMABAD, Aug 30: Supreme Court (SC) Monday summoned the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general, Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) chairman, inspector general of police (IGP) Islamabad and attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) in a case pertaining to the complaints of journalists.
The bench also summoned all four advocate generals and sought a report from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) registrar regarding the status of pending cases of media persons on the next date of hearing scheduled to be held on September 15.
A three-member SC bench comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed heard the suo moto notice case regarding highhandedness by the FIA action pursuant to first information reports lodged at FIA Cyber Crime Wing Lahore.
During the course of proceedings, Justice Ijaz said the court would intervene for protection of journalists’ rights. Journalists Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui, Asad Toor and Amir Mir withdrew their applications.
Justice Munib Akhtar said the Constitution guaranteed freedom to media. the freedom of the press was also protected in the Indian, American and German constitutions, he added.
He said any law that contradicted to Article 19 would be declared null and void.
Justice Ijaz said the court would support journalists on the issue of salaries and terminations.
Qazi Amin said, “As judges, we cannot do politics and the job of journalists is to do journalism, not to do politics.” He said journalism and freedom of expression must be within the realm of civilization. Judges were in the hands of history, not a few people, he added.
Justice Ijaz said the court had to convince itself that the fundamental rights were not being violated. Media was the conscience and voice of the nation, he added.
Later, the court summoned FIA director general, PEMRA chairman, AGP, IGP Islamabad and advocate generals and adjourned hearing of the case till September 15.
It may be noted that the case was originally taken up by a division bench led by Justice Qazi Faez Isa. The bench on August 20, directly entertained the Press Association of Supreme Court (PAS) application against alleged harassment of media persons. The division bench had also summoned several government functionaries on August 26 before it.
However, on August 23, a five-judge 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 said the order deviated from the established practice of entertaining the suo moto notices.
The SC also said the chief justice of Pakistan was the “sole authority by and through whom the suo moto jurisdiction can be, and is to be, invoked/assumed” under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution.