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Supreme Court orders FIA to withdraw notices issued to journalists

Seeks complete record of cases against media persons: Adjourns hearing till tomorrow

By News Desk

January 29, 2024 12:51 PM


Supreme Court orders FIA to withdraw notices issued to journalists

Representational image

The Supreme Court has ordered an immediate withdrawal of notices issued to the journalists for criticizing the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

The court sought details of all the cases against journalists. It also sought details of cases other than the cases of Matiullah Jan, Asad Toor, Aamir Mir, and Shafqat Imran.

It demanded a complete record of the FIRs registered against the journalists by the FIA, and the record of the FIRs filed by the journalists.

The court ordered to fetch these details from officers like FIA DG and IG Police.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Monday conducted the hearing of a suo motu notice taken by the court of the harassment of journalists by the FIA.

The Chief Justice directed the Attorney General that using abusive words is a different matter, but the FIA should not take action merely on the basis of criticism. The Attorney General assured the court that no action would be taken against any journalist for criticism.

While addressing the Attorney General, the Chief Justice remarked that he is strongly against stifling criticism because the freedom of the press has been guaranteed in the Constitution. “I don't care if you make fun of me, but if you make fun of the judiciary, the country will suffer. You must criticize the Supreme Court, but the Constitution also has laid down some limitations.”

The Chief Justice further remarked: “If you think that you are benefiting me or the Supreme Court by stopping criticism, then you are doing harm. If journalists criticize the court decisions, let them do this. But the issue of dissemination or inciting others to violence is different. We cannot stop any journalist or general public from criticizing, no case will be filed for criticizing the Supreme Court.”

Justice Musarrat Hilali remarked that social media has caused a lot of damage to institutions, what is written on the thumbnail is not inside, it is very strange. Fair criticism is not a problem but the language used is wrong, she observed.

Chief Justice Isa remarked: “Swearing is wrong, but criticism is not prohibited. If a journalist is arrested just for criticizing, it is wrong. I don't care about swearing, but there should be limits. We will also give rights to those who are not in front of us. I welcome criticism on myself. Let’s discuss Quaid-e-Azam’s principles here.”

Justice Musarrat Hilali remarked that they had even made fun of Quaid-e-Azam.

At this juncture, journalist Matiullah Jan requested the court that it should also take suo motu notice of Arshad Sharif's murder. The Chief Justice said that Arshad Sharif's case could be put on the next hearing, ‘but at this time I do not want to give any orders that may conflict with the ongoing orders in Arshad Sharif's case’.

The Supreme Court Bar Association President said that there should be criticism of the judgments but the fabricated stories should not be made against the judges.

Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar remarked that YouTube has no code of conduct, PEMRA has a code of conduct for TV and what happens in a YouTube thumbnail is not found in the video.

The Chief Justice remarked: “Along with hate speeches, some other things also happen only in Pakistan, polio workers are killed and women's schools are bombed, why does the government not do anything against extremist thinking? Why aren't those who prevent women from voting and officials from administrating polio shots caught? Look at what happened in Jaranwala, everything is the result of hatred, these people were used, and now they have become dragons, why the authorities did not arrest the persons who gave the fatwa to prevent women from voting?”

Justice Mazhar remarked if the media wants to create a code of conduct, then tell us whose help is needed?

The Chief Justice asked whether the Press Association denies any false news. If there is a defamation case, there would be no decision for 50 years, he added.

Justice Hilali remarked that earning money through hurling abuses has become a source of livelihood for people, it is very sad.

During the hearing, the Chief Justice asked what happened to journalist Asad Toor’s torture case. On which the Attorney General said that a case was registered in this regard. The Chief Justice asked Asad Toor if he recognized the accused. Toor replied that if the accused came forward, he could recognize them. He said that the accused kept using mobile phones at his flat but geofencing was not done.

The Chief Justice further asked why the sketches and fingerprints of the accused were not shared with the ISI. The institution will have a complete record of its employees, is the case of Asad Toor active, or has it been sent to the cold room, the top judge inquired.

Journalist Asad Toor said that he was trapped in the petition filed in 2021. He said that he is withdrawing his three-year-old petition but he fully agrees with the recent declaration.

The Chief Justice asked Toor if he had made false allegations. The journalist replied that he stood by the allegations that he had made in the FIR.

The Chief Justice remarked, “If you choose not to proceed with the case, we will give you basic rights, if you are under pressure, we will not allow you to withdraw the case.”

To this, Asad Toor said that there is no pressure on him, when the application was filed in 2021, he understood that Matiullah Jan was also with him, and the way in which the application was submitted to the court was not correct.

The Chief Justice said in his remarks that he is also not satisfied with the manner in which the application was received.

Journalist organizations demanded that the notices sent by the FIA be suspended. The Chief Justice told them that the case would be heard again tomorrow, there is no need to worry.

After that, the hearing of the suo motu case about the harassment of journalists was adjourned till tomorrow.

 

Reporter Amanat Gishkori


News Desk


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