The Supreme Court of Pakistan holds Justice Isa’s order in abeyance in journalist’s harassment case

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court of Pakistan Monday held in abeyance Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s order on harassment and intimidation of journalists, saying it is difficult to be implemented.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Qazi Muhammad Ameen and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhat assembled to provide clarity in respect of invocation of the apex court’s  suo motu  jurisdiction.

It was August 20, when a two-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, after taking suo motu on the applications of Press Association of Supreme Court and five working journalists had issued notices to the federal as well as provincial government authorities and law officers of federation and provinces to file a report on the alleged harassment of the journalists by FIA. The bench also directed the SC office to fix the matter before the same bench on August 26, 2021.

“At the present moment, the judicial order directing notices (by Justice Faez) to several federal and provincial authorities and the federal and the provincial law officers is in field on account of the queries posed by the bench. It is difficult the set order is implemented,” said five-judge bench order.

It further said that since the order touches upon the controversy affecting the society, the state and the stakeholders, therefore, the case is fixed for Wednesday. However, it said that the order of August 20 shall remain in abeyance.

The order also stated that the same bench will not be available in the week commencing on August23 on the said date. The question may arise for constituting a new bench.

The court noted that there has been the practice that the decision on taking suo motu actions by the Chief Justice on the recommendation of the benches, made during the judicial proceeding pending before them. However, there is a difference in the present suo motu as this was taken on a fresh application filed in the court.

The order said that the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for taking suo motu is under Article 184(3) read with Article 187 of the Constitution. If the exercise has been under the system and order it had lent credibility, certainty and consistency to the substantive proceedings thereafter.

The court said in order that the suo motu sustain,  we like to hold that the principal stakeholder i.e. Attorney General for Pakistan, President of PAS, Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman and the President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) should render their assistance in the matter. They were asked to come prepared on the said date.

Earlier, SCBA President Lateef Afridi appeared before the bench and said that lawyers feel that there is division in the apex court. “We want a united Supreme Court,” he added.

However, Justice Bandial remarked that there is difference of opinion among SC judges but there are no differences. Justice Bandial also said that however for his [SCBA President] satisfaction, they will sit together.

Afridi also requested the bench to form full court to hear this matter, to which Justice Bandial said that all judges are not available during the current week.

The judge further noted that according to the division bench’s direction, the same bench would hear the journalists’ protection case on August 26, but that bench is not available and said that they want to protect the rights of the journalists in accordance with the law.

Source: The Nation

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